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Heart Disease

What’s the difference: Crestor Vs. Lipitor?

Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) are medications that both fall under the drug class statins.

Statins are drugs that lower “bad” cholesterol (also known as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL) in your body – they do this by blocking a substance in your liver that is needed to make cholesterol. People with high levels of LDL in their blood are at increased risk for heart attack or stroke, so lowering your cholesterol can help prevent cardiac events from happening.

Statins can also increase the amount of “good” cholesterol (also known as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL) in your body; healthy levels of HDL may protect against heart attack and stroke.

Lastly, statins can also be used to lower the amount of triglycerides in your body. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in your body, but very high levels in combination with high LDL and low HDL levels can lead to fatty buildup in your blood vessels, which also increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.

So, what’s really different between the two?
While Lipitor and Crestor both work well at lowering your “bad cholesterol,” increasing your “good” cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides, studies have shown that Crestor is slightly more effective at decreasing total cholesterol at lower doses.

What are some common side effects of statin medications?

Because Crestor and Lipitor are such similar medications, they have very similar side effects. These may include:

  • Muscle aches (myalgias)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Memory problems or confusion
  • Elevated blood sugar levels in people with diabetes

Very rarely, serious side effects known as myopathy (muscle weakness) and rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of muscle tissue), may occur in patients taking statins. It may happen at any dose but is more common at higher dosages. If you have unexplained muscle pain or weakness, fatigue, or fever you should talk to your doctor right away.

What else should I know about Lipitor and Crestor?
Both Lipitor and Crestor can be taken at any time of day with or without food.

Lipitor or Crestor should not be taken by women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant.

Consuming a small amount of alcohol is generally considered safe if you are taking Lipitor or Crestor. If you have liver problems or drink excessive amounts of alcohol you should talk to your doctor before combining either of these medications with alcohol.

How much do they cost?

Generic formulations of both medications are covered by most Medicare and commercial insurance plans; brand names are often not covered or may have a high copay. If you are having trouble paying for medications, Easy Drug Card may be able to provide medication discounts at one of the 65,000+ participating nationwide and local neighborhood pharmacies. Find the best price near you.


Both Crestor and Lipitor work very well at lowering high cholesterol and reducing your risk for heart attack or stroke. They are generally well tolerated and have similar side effects. You should talk to your healthcare provider to determine which statin is best for you.


  1. McKenney, J. M., Jones, P. H., Adamczyk, M. A., Cain, V. A., Bryzinski, B. S., Blasetto, J. W., & STELLAR Study Group. (2003). Comparison of the efficacy of rosuvastatin versus atorvastatin, simvastatin, and pravastatin in achieving lipid goals: results from the STELLAR trial. Current medical research and opinion, 19(8), 689-698.
  2. Marion, DW. Atorvastatin. In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021.
  3. Marion, DW. Rosuvastatin. In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021.

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Dr. Joanna L. Hodder

Dr. Joanna L. Hodder is a transitions of care pharmacist for a large hospital system in Denver, Colorado. She received her BA in English Literature from Iowa State University and PharmD from University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. Dr. Hodder completed a post-graduate year 1 (PGY-1) residency at Northeast Iowa Family Practice Center, where she delivered quality patient care in both hospital and primary care settings. She is passionate about empowering patients to take charge of their health through evidence-based education and improving access to medications. When she isn’t working closely with patients, Dr. Hodder enjoys gardening, hiking with her dog, and yoga.




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