Which Medicines Lower “Bad” (LDL) Cholesterol?
Drugs that Work in Your Intestine continued...
- Colestipol (Colestid)
- Cholestyramine (Prevalite)
- Colesevelam (WelChol)
A different type of drug, ezetimibe (Zetia), lowers bad LDL cholesterol by blocking cholesterol absorption in your small intestine. Studies have found that in people who have already had a heart attack, it can make a small cut in the risk of heart “events,” such as another heart attack, when you also take a statin.
Side effects: For bile acid drugs, the most common side effects are constipation, gas, and upset stomach. For ezetimibe, the most common ones include muscle or back pain, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Targeting Triglycerides: Fibrates
“Fibrates” are drugs that cut down on how much triglycerides your body makes and can also boost your “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Gemfibrozil (Lopid)
The Newest Type of Drug: PCSK9 Inhibitors
What they are: These drugs are used in people who can’t manage their cholesterol through lifestyle and statin treatments. They block a protein called PCSK9 to make it easier for the body to remove LDL from your blood.
They are mainly used in adults who inherit a genetic condition called “heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia” that makes it hard to bring down their cholesterol level, or for people who had heart disease and need more than a statin. You get them as a shot every 2 weeks.
- Alirocumab (Praluent)
- Evolocumab (Repatha)
Side effects: Because these drugs are newer, it will take more time to get to know their side effects. In clinical trials, the most common ones for alirocumab are itching, swelling, pain, or bruising where you get the shot, as well as colds and flu. For evolucumab, they include colds, flu, back pain, and skin reactions where you get the shot.