Sometimes diet and exercise alone can’t protect you from the risks of high triglycerides. To lower them, your body needs an extra nudge in the form of medicine.
Your doctor will likely prescribe meds if you have:
- Very high triglycerides -- over 500 mg/dL
- Both high triglycerides and high "bad" LDL cholesterol levels
Your doctor will consider many factors when choosing the right medicine for you. For instance, are you taking other meds? What is your overall health?
Your doctor will consider these main types of triglycerides meds:
- Prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acids
- Atromid-S (clofibrate)
- Lipofen and Tricor (fenofibrate)
- Fibricor and Trilipix (fenofibric acid)
- Gemcor and Lopid (gemfibrozil)
Medicines that can interact: Before taking fibrates, be sure to tell your doctor about other supplements and meds you take, especially:
This class of medicine reduces triglycerides and also improves cholesterol levels. Niacin lowers the amount of LDL cholesterol as well as ApoB. Plus, it increases the amount of HDL "good" cholesterol.
Medicine name: Niaspan (niacin)
You should not take niacin if you have:
- An allergy to aspirin, niacin, or tartrazine (a yellow dye in some medicines and processed foods)
- Any bleeding problems
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart disease
- Liver problems or jaundice
- A stomach ulcer
- Plan to have any type of surgery, including dental procedures
Medicines that can interact: Before you take niacin, be sure to tell your doctor if you:
Prescription-Strength Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This class of medicines lower levels of triglycerides and may increase HDL "good" cholesterol.
- Epanova (omega-3-carboxylic acids)
- Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters)
- Vascepa (icosapent ethyl)
You should not take prescription omega-3s if you:
- Are allergic to fish or shellfish
- Drink more than two glasses of alcohol each day
- Have diabetes, liver, pancreatic, or thyroid disease
Medicines that could interact: Tell your doctor if you take meds such as:
When You Also Have High Cholesterol
High triglycerides and high cholesterol often go hand in hand. If you have both conditions, your doctor might also want you to take a cholesterol-lowering medicine. These meds can slightly lower triglycerides, too. There are three main groups:
What You Need From Follow-up Visits
After you get your prescription, you'll probably see your doctor every six weeks until your triglyceride levels drop. Use these check-ins to talk about any side effects you find bothersome.
Based on how your levels are improving, your doctor may change the dose of your meds. If you're taking fibrates or niacin, your doctor may use these follow-up visits to take blood to check your liver and kidneys.
Once you reach your goal level, you'll see your doctor every 6 to 12 months. At these follow-up visits, they’ll take blood to make sure your triglycerides are still under control. Keep these appointments -- they’re a key part of lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.