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Your doctor gave you a prescription for medicine to lower your cholesterol or triglyceride levels. There's a lot you can do to get the best results, starting with knowing how to take it.

If your doctor hasn't already explained, ask him:

  • Why do you need it, and what does it do?
  • When should you take it?
  • Are there foods you shouldn’t eat when you're taking it?
  • How will you know it’s working?
  • What side effects might you have?
  • What's the goal: What triglyceride numbers are we aiming for?
  • How much of a difference will the medicine make?
  • What lifestyle changes do I also need to make?
  • How long might it take to see results?

At the Pharmacy

Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions. Try to see the same pharmacist if you can. They may help make sure you don’t take two or more medicines that can have dangerous interactions.

Review all the medicines you’re taking with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you still need them. Put everything you take in a bag -- not just prescriptions, but nonprescription remedies like cold medicine, aspirin, vitamins, and supplements.

At Home: Take Meds, Exercise, and Repeat

Take your medicines exactly as prescribed . You’re more likely to remember them if you take them at the same time every day. Your doctor may tell you a specific time, or you may be able to choose. A wristwatch or cell phone alarm can remind you when it’s time to take a pill, or you can ask a family member to help you remember.

Stick with healthy habits. Even if you're taking medicine, you still need to move more and eat right. Meds are most effective when you combine their efforts with a healthy lifestyle. So set reachable goals, and keep challenging yourself. Feeling successful is one of the best ways to stick to a healthy eating plan and exercise routine.

Track your progress. Keep track of your commitment to take meds and continue other healthy habits to stay motivated.

Commit to staying on your treatment. When your cholesterol and triglyceride numbers improve, don't make any changes in your treatment plan without talking to your doctor first. Maintaining your healthy numbers means not skipping doses, exercise, or healthy meals.

Keep your doctor in the loop. That’s what follow-up appointments are for. Use that time to talk about side effects you’re noticing and how bothersome they are. If anything comes up before that appointment that makes it difficult for you to continue the medicine, don’t wait -- call your doctor.