1. About pravastatin
Pravastatin belongs to a group of medicines called statins.
Your doctor may prescribe pravastatin if you have a family history of heart disease, or a long-term health condition such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
This medicine is available on prescription as tablets.
2. Key facts
- Pravastatin seems to be a very safe medicine. It's unusual to have any side effects.
- Do not take pravastatin if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Take pravastatin even if you feel well, as you will still be getting the benefits. Most people with high cholesterol don't have any symptoms.
- Pravastatin is also called Pravachol.
3. Who can and can't take pravastatin
Pravastatin can be taken by adults and children over 8 years old.
Pravastatin isn't suitable for some people. Tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to pravastatin or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- are trying to get pregnant, think you might be pregnant, you're already pregnant, or you're breastfeeding
- have severe lung disease
- drink large amounts of alcohol
- have an underactive thyroid
- have had muscular side effects when taking a statin in the past
- have had a muscle disorder (including fibromyalgia)
4. How and when to take it
Take pravastatin once a day in the evening. This is because your body makes most cholesterol at night.
Pravastatin doesn't upset the stomach, so you can take it with or without food. Swallow pravastatin tablets whole with a glass of water.
In adults, the usual dose is 10mg to 40mg once a day. Your dose depends on the reason for taking it, your cholesterol levels and what other medicines you're taking.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you're unsure how much to take. Don't reduce your dose without talking to your doctor first.
In children aged 8 to 13 years old, the usual dose is 10mg to 20mg once a day. In children aged 14 to 17 years old, the dose may range from 10mg to 40mg daily.
Your doctor will work out the amount of pravastatin that's right for your child based on their age.
What if I forget to take it?
If you occasionally forget to take a dose, take your next dose the next day at the usual time. Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take extra doses.
If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
What if I take too much?
Taking an extra dose of pravastatin by accident is unlikely to harm you.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you're worried or if you take more than 1 extra dose.
5. Side effects
Pravastatin seems to be a very safe medicine and it's unusual to have side effects. However, different statins can affect people in different ways.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if side effects bother you or don't go away. They may recommend taking a different statin.
One rare but serious side effect is unexplained muscle aches and pains. This can happen a few weeks or months after you first start taking pravastatin. Report any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness to a doctor straight away.
Another very rare side effect can be memory loss. This usually goes away when you stop taking the medicine.
Serious side effects
It happens rarely, but less than 1 in 1,000 people taking pravastatin may have a serious side effect.
Stop taking pravastatin and call a doctor if you develop:
- unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps - these can be a sign of muscle breakdown and kidney damage
- yellow skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or if you have pale poo and dark pee - these can be signs of liver problems
- severe stomach pain - these can be a sign of inflammation of the pancreas
- a cough, feeling short of breath and weight loss - these can be signs of lung disease
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to pravastatin.
These are not all the side effects of pravastatin. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
6. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Pravastatin is not recommended in pregnancy or while breastfeeding, as there's no firm evidence that it's safe.
Talk to your doctor if you want to get pregnant. It's best to stop taking pravastatin at least 3 months before you start trying for a baby.
If you become pregnant while taking pravastatin, stop taking the medicine and tell your doctor.
Pravastatin and breastfeeding
It's not known if pravastatin gets into breast milk, but it may cause problems for your baby. You may be able to stop pravastatin temporarily while you breastfeed.
7. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines interfere with the way pravastatin works and can increase the chances of you having serious side effects such as muscle damage.
Medicines that may not mix well with pravastatin include:
- some antibiotics and antifungals
- some HIV medicines
- some hepatitis C medicines
- ciclosporin (treats psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- colchicine (a medicine for gout)
If you're taking pravastatin and need to take one of these medicines, your doctor may:
- prescribe a lower dose of pravastatin
- prescribe a different statin
- recommend that you temporarily stop taking your pravastatin
Mixing pravastatin with herbal remedies and supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements with pravastatin.
For safety, tell your doctor and pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
8. Common questions
How does pravastatin work?
How long do statins take to work?
How long will I take pravastatin for?
Are statins safe?
Is it safe to take pravastatin for a long time?
Is pravastatin addictive?
What will happen if I come off it?
Does it help to take supplements together with statins?
Will taking pravastatin increase my risk of diabetes?
How does it compare with other medicines for high cholesterol?
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Will it affect my fertility?
Will it stop my contraception working?
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Can lifestyle changes help?
Page last reviewed: 20/12/2018
Next review due: 20/12/2021