Zocor (simvastatin) is a prescription medication in the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor class of drugs. This medication, which was FDA-approved in 1991, is used to help lower blood cholesterol levels that are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It is often prescribed along with recommendations for healthier diet and exercise programs.
Zocor is indicated for use in several different ways to assist with decreasing the risk of stroke and heart attack related to heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels:
- Reduces total mortality risk by decreasing risks of stroke, non-fatal myocardial infarction, death caused by coronary heart disease and minimizes the need for revascularization surgeries in those who are at high risk of having coronary events.
- Decreases the levels of total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and Apo B while increasing HDL levels in those with mixed dyslipidemia and hyperlipidemia.
- Decreases elevated triglyceride levels in those with hypertriglyceridemia
- Reduces VLDL and triglycerides in those with primary dysbetalipoproteinemia
- Decreases total cholesterol and LDL levels in adults with homozygous hypercholesterolemia (familial)
- Decreases total cholesterol, Apo B and LDL levels in children between the ages of 10 and 17 who have heterozygous hypercholesterolemia (familial) that isn’t controlled properly with dietary changes.
How It Works
Zocor and other statin drugs help lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme required for making cholesterol. It also increases the LDL receptors in the liver, which increases the amount of LDL processed. These two actions help to prevent plaque buildup in the blood vessels, which can cause heart disease, atherosclerosis and stroke.
Zocor is prescribed to those who have already had a heart attack or stroke, as well as those who are at risk for developing heart disease. When doctors prescribe this medication, dietary changes, weight loss and increased exercise are always suggested to promote the best possible outcomes.
As with most drugs, there are a few common side effects associated with Zocor that generally resolve on their own with continued use, or are not bothersome enough for people to stop taking the medication. These include:
- Nausea and stomach pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Memory issues or confusion
There are also side effects that are listed as severe and require immediate medical treatment:
- Muscle pain, tenderness or weakness
- Chills, fever or flushing
- Decreased and/or dark urine
- Pain in upper right stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
While Zocor has been a popular option for those requiring statin drugs since it was first approved, the FDA has issued two warnings about the drug. In 2011, safety restrictions were issued about the potential danger associated with taking Zocor in dosages of 80 milligrams. Studies have shown that taking the drug at this level could cause myopathy, which is a debilitating muscle disease.
The FDA’s warning explained that new patients should not be prescribed high doses, and those who were already taking the dose should discontinue it if they had any kind of muscle pain in the past year. Only those patients who had taken the drug at 80 milligrams for over one year without having any pain in the muscles should continue at the high dose.
In 2012, another safety alert was issued for all statins, including Zocor. The alert cited the increased risk of patients taking these medications developing confusion, forgetfulness, diabetes and memory loss.
Patients taking Zocor have reported both of these types of side effects for several years, yet neither were provided as potential issues until 20 years after the drug was introduced. If you or a loved one suffered injuries while taking Zocor, you should contact an attorney to determine whether compensation may be available to you.