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Lipitor: Calculate if It’s Right for You
Aim for a Low Goal
If you let your doctor scribble a prescription for a cholesterol-lowering drug without asking any questions, you’re missing a chance to become vitally involved in your health care—and maybe save some bucks.
“In the process of testing cholesterol levels and establishing a goal, many patients miss an opportunity to work with their doctors,” Nicholls says. “This is your chance to weigh in on the decision to take Lipitor or any other statin.”
You should talk to your doctor about setting a new cholesterol goal. A good way to do this is to calculate what percentage decrease you need, Gupta says.
“Sometimes physicians don’t do this,” Gupta says. “With your test results and a goal, you can do it yourself.” You also will be better informed to make a decision about which cholesterol drug to choose. “If you need to reduce your cholesterol by 45 percent or more, you should be looking at the more potent medications, such as Lipitor, Crestor, or Vytorin,” Gupta says.
Here’s how to figure your LDL reduction goal as a percentage:
1. Subtract your current LDL level from your goal LDL. For example, if your current LDL level is 210 and you’d like it to be 130, the calculation would be 210 - 130 = 80.
2. Divide that result by your current LDL level: 80/210 = 0.38.
3. Multiply that result by 100 (0.38 x 100 = 38) to get the amount of LDL reduction you wish to achieve as a percentage (38% in this example).
Add up risk factors
Other factors besides your cholesterol readings can contribute to your cholesterol goal.
Having one of the risk factors below isn’t a big deal if you don’t need to reduce your LDL any more than 20 percent. However, if you have two or more of these risk factors, you should increase your reduction goal, Nicholls says.
- Family history of heart disease
- Family history of high cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Previous heart attacks
The money game
Here is the average cost (before any health insurance discounts) for a month’s supply of leading cholesterol medications:
|Crestor (20 mg)
|Lescol (20 mg)
|Lipitor (20 mg)
|Lovastatin (generic) (20 mg)
|Pravastatin (generic) (20 mg)
|Simvastatin (generic) (20 mg)
|Vytorin (10 to 20 mg)
|Zocor (20 mg)