The Baby Boomer Heart: Cholesterol Rising
People between ages 45-60 years are at risk for high cholesterol. High cholesterol can build up even in trim, active people.
When Cholesterol Medications Are the Answer continued...
This group includes:
Like all drugs, these medications can cause some side effects: muscle aches
and weakness, mild stomach upset, gas, and nausea. More serious but rare
problems include liver damage or muscle breakdown. Regular follow-up with your
physician is needed; let your health care provider know your symptoms and
always have a list of your medications with you. Still, doctors say side
effects are uncommon and in the overwhelming majority of people, benefits far
outweigh risks. Pregnant woman should not take these medications.
The bottom line: The data on safety and effectiveness of even aggressive
medical therapy is good. Most people get good results from the medication
without significant problems, says Weintraub.
More Treatments That Can Help
According to the American Heart Association, other cholesterol-lowering
medications sometimes used alone, or more frequently in conjunction with
- Bile acid resins (cholestyramine and colestipol).
- Fibrates (such as gemfibrozil and fenofibrate)
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors (Zetia).
- Nicotinic acid -- also known as niacin -- in prescription-strength
While doctors enthusiastically agree medications can help, taking medication
won't let you enjoy a rich diet without worry.
"You can outeat any medication your doctor can prescribe," says
Weintraub. "These drugs are not a license to eat what you want."
Indeed, experts say it's vital to maintain strict dietary and lifestyle changes
even when your cholesterol begins to drop.
Adds Krumholz: "The more you can do on your own, without medication, the
less medication you'll need to remain healthy."