Lower Cholesterol to Reduce Heart Disease Risk
What Drugs Are Used to Treat High Cholesterol? continued...
Examples of statins include:
Niacin is a B-complex vitamin. It's found in food, but is also available at high doses by prescription. It lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. The main side effects are flushing, itching, tingling, and headache, yet aspirin can reduce many of these symptoms. However speak with your doctor first before taking aspirin. Research studies suggest that even though niacin may improve your cholesterol numbers, it does not appear to lower your risk of heart disease, especially if you are already taking a statin.
Bile Acid Sequestrants
These drugs work inside the intestine, where they bind to bile and prevent it from being reabsorbed into the circulatory system. Bile is made largely from cholesterol, so these drugs work by reducing the body's supply of cholesterol, thus lowering total and LDL cholesterol. The most common side effects are constipation, gas, and upset stomach. Examples of bile acid resins include:
- Questran and Questran Light
Fibrates lower triglyceride levels and can increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. It's thought that fibrates enhance the breakdown of triglyceride-rich particles and decrease the secretion of certain blood fats.
Examples of fibrates include:
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
Zetia works to lower LDL by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Vytorin is a drug that is a combination of Zetia and a statin, and can decrease total and LDL cholesterol and raise HDL levels. Although Zetia may reduce your LDL cholesterol, research studies have not found that Zetia reduces your risk of heart disease.
Some people with high cholesterol achieve the best results with combination drugs -- pills that contain more than one medication to treat cholesterol problems, trigylceride abnormalities, or even high blood pressure. Some examples include:
What Are the Side Effects of Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs?
The side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs include:
- Muscle aches*
- Abnormal liver function
- Allergic reaction (skin rashes)
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased sexual desire
- Memory loss
*If you have muscle aches, call your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a life-threatening condition.
Are There Foods or Other Drugs I Should Avoid While Taking Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs?
Ask your doctor about the other drugs you are taking, including herbals and vitamins, and their impact on cholesterol-lowering medications. You should not drink grapefruit juice while taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, as it can interfere with the liver's ability to metabolize these medications.