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Heart Disease and Lowering Cholesterol

(continued)

What Drugs Are Used to Treat High Cholesterol? continued...

Fibrates
Fibrates lower triglyceride levels and can increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. The mechanism of action is not clear, but it is thought that fibrates enhance the breakdown of triglyceride-rich particles and decrease the secretion of certain lipoproteins. In addition, they induce the synthesis of HDL.

Examples of fibrates include:

  • Antara, Lipofen, Lofibra, Tricor (fenofibrate)
  • Lopid (gemfibrozil)
  • Fenofibric acids (Fibricor, Trilipix)

Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors
Zetia (ezetimibe) works to lower LDL by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Vytorin is a newer drug that is a combination of Zetia (ezetimibe) and a statin (simvastatin), and can decrease total and LDL cholesterol and raise HDL levels. There is not sufficient medical evidence to show that ezetimibe prevents heart attacks.

Combination drugs
Some people with high cholesterol achieve the best results with combination drugs. These drugs treat cholesterol problems and are sometimes combined with medications like blood pressure drugs in one pill. 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)
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Memory problems

*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 drugs. You should not drink grapefruit juice while taking some types of cholesterol-lowering drugs, as it can interfere with the liver's ability to metabolize these medications.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on October 30, 2013
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