Simvastatin: Uses, How to Take, Dosing & Side Effects

Updated in March 2024

Simvastatin is a medicine from the statin class that is prescribed to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. When these levels are high, there is an increased risk for fat deposits to accumulate on blood vessel walls. This can narrow or clog these vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

This medicine is available in pharmacies with a prescription in the form of 10, 20, 40 and 80 mg tablets. It should be taken as prescribed by your doctor. 

Simvastatin can also be found combined with ezetimibe, which is a substance that works by reducing fat absorption. This helps to further reduce high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 

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Common uses

Simvastatin is prescribed to reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It also increases HDL cholesterol, as it works by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver that is responsible for cholesterol production.

Also recommended: Cholesterol: LDL, HDL VLDL & Total Cholesterol Levels

Simvastatin is indicated to prevent and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke, in addition to peripheral vascular disease caused by diabetes or coronary artery disease.

Simvastatin should be taken as prescribed by your family doctor or cardiologist, and will requireregular medical monitoring to assess cholesterol levels and any side effects.

How to take

The simvastatin tablet should be taken orally, with a glass of water after meals in a single dose. It should be taken at the same time, preferably at night, before going to bed.


The recommended doses of simvastatin for adults include:

  • Prevention of cardiovascular disease: the initial dose of simvastatin is generally 20 to 40 mg per day. It is taken alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise as recommended by the doctor;
  • High total cholesterol: the initial dose of simvastatin is generally 10 to 20 mg per day, which can be increased to up to 40 mg per day, depending on medical assessment.

Simvastatin doses can be changed by the doctor according to blood test results, specifically results total and fractionated cholesterol, in addition to triglycerides.

Also recommended: HDL Cholesterol: Normal Ranges & How to Increase

Treatment with simvastatin is generally long-term. You should not discontinue treatment on your own, as this should always be advised by your doctor.

What to do if you forget to take it

If you forget to take the dose at the right time, take it as soon as you remember- However, you remember close to the time of your next dose, skip the forgotten dose and wait for the next time to take it. Under no circumstances should you double the dose to make up for any forgotten dose.

Possible side effects

Some of the most common side effects that may occur during treatment with simvastatin are headaches, constipation, nausea, stomach pain, or cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, or sore throat.

Additionally, although rarer, simvastatin can cause a breakdown of musculoskeletal tissue that can lead to kidney or liver failure. This can be noted through symptoms such as muscle pain in the hips, shoulders, neck or back, weakness, excessive tiredness, fever or dark colored urine.

Simvastatin can also cause serious allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Therefore, you should stop treatment and proceed to the nearest emergency room if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a feeling of a closed throat, swelling in the mouth, tongue or face, or hives.

Contraindications for use

Simvastatin should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor by people who have liver disease or allergies to simvastatin or any other substance contained in the tablet.

The doctor should be informed about all medications you are taking, as well as any dietary supplements, herbal medicines and home remedies, as they can interfere with the action of simvastatin, and increase or decrease its effectiveness