American Heart Month: The ideal time to take smart steps to control cholesterol

(BPT) - February is American Heart Month, the perfect time to take a serious look at your heart health. One important aspect of managing your heart health is keeping your cholesterol levels within a healthy range. With a few smart steps, you can help support your heart health today and well into the future.

Dr. Shawn Dhillon, medical director at Calvert Medical Group in Baltimore, believes that managing heart health begins with strengthening the doctor-patient relationship. It's through open, honest conversation that people can best manage their cholesterol levels to support a healthy heart.

"It's critical for patients to have an open dialogue about a management plan," says Dr. Dhillon. "It's also important for physicians to properly explain conditions and treatment options to patients, and equally important for patients to listen. Talking and forming a partnership helps ensure success."

In the US, more than 100 million American adults have high cholesterol, which can lead to hard, thick buildup (plaque) forming in your arteries, causing them to narrow and slowing down and even blocking the flow of blood to your heart. This is dangerous because blood carries oxygen to the heart and brain. If enough oxygen doesn't reach your heart, you may feel pains in your chest, and if blood supply is completely blocked to any part of your heart, it can cause a heart attack.

To help encourage a healthy lifestyle, Dr. Dhillon often suggests therapeutic lifestyle changes before recommending any medication. This may start by looking at dietary changes that increase intake of soluble fiber and decrease intake of trans and saturated fats.

Dr. Dhillon also recommends increased exercise, which works the heart and encourages weight loss. For those who need to reduce cholesterol levels, The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise or activity 3 to 4 times a week.

"If cholesterol levels still do not improve to where we want them to be after trying lifestyle changes for an adequate amount of time, we supplement with a statin medication," says Dr. Dhillon.

Statins are prescription drugs that can help people manage cholesterol levels. LIVALO® (pitavastatin) is a statin medication that, along with a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise, can improve overall cholesterol levels while having a lower risk of certain unpredictable drug interactions compared to other statins.

Some people may experience side effects when starting a statin. "It's important to record any symptoms and discuss them with your healthcare provider," according to Dr. Dhillon. "Everyone has a different tolerance level for statins," he says. "Sometimes the body needs time to adjust to the new medication. You may experience muscle aches or fatigue but by working with your doctor you can make adjustments — perhaps trying a lower dose or trying a different type of statin — so that you can find a treatment that works for your unique needs."

While speaking with your doctor, ask if LIVALO is right for you. LIVALO lowers cholesterol levels by targeting the enzyme that plays a central role in the production of cholesterol. LIVALO is metabolized, or processed, in the liver differently than most other statins and may be less likely to interact with other medications. Because of the way LIVALO is metabolized differently than most statins, patients are able to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice, both of which can potentially interfere with the action of some other prescription drugs.

Important Safety Information for LIVALO® (pitavastatin) tablets

Who should NOT take LIVALO?

LIVALO is not right for everyone. Do not take LIVALO if:

  • You have a known allergy to LIVALO or any of its ingredients.
  • You have active liver problems, including some abnormal liver test results.
  • You are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant, as it may harm the baby.
  • You are currently taking cyclosporine or gemfibrozil.

What is the most important information I should know and talk to my doctor about?

  • Call your healthcare provider or get help right away if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as rash, itching, or hives.
  • Muscle problems may be an early sign of rare, serious conditions. Tell your doctor right away if you have any unexplained muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness, particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever, or if these muscle signs or symptoms persist after discontinuing LIVALO.
  • Serious liver problems have been reported rarely in patients taking statins, including LIVALO. Your doctor should do liver tests before you start, and if you have symptoms of liver problems while you are taking LIVALO. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you feel more tired than usual, have a loss of appetite, upper belly pain, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of the skin or eyes.
  • Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications you take including nonprescription medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
  • Increases in blood sugar levels have been reported with statins, including LIVALO.
  • Tell your doctor about your alcohol use.

What are the most common side effects of LIVALO?

The most common side effects of LIVALO in clinical studies were:

  • Back pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain in the legs or arms

This is not a complete list of side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of all drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1.800.FDA.1088.

How should I store and take LIVALO?

  • Store LIVALO tablets at room temperature, in a dry place, and out of the reach of children.
  • LIVALO can be taken at any time of day, with or without food.
  • Swallow the tablet whole. Do not split, crush, dissolve, or chew.

Other important information I should know about LIVALO.

  • LIVALO has not been studied to evaluate its effect on reducing heart-related disease or death.
  • LIVALO is available by prescription only.

For additional information please see the full Prescribing Information or visit

© Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. (2017) - LIV-RA-0109