Tips for Taking Cholesterol Medications

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on February 04, 2021

When you take medication to treat high cholesterol, you need to follow your health care provider’s directions carefully. If you do not take medications as prescribed, they may not work like they’re supposed to.


Cholesterol Drug Tips

  • Take all drugs the way your health care provider tells you to.
  • Know why you are taking your medicine.
  • Take your medicine, at the same time every day. Do not stop taking it or change it without talking with your doctor first. Even if you feel good, keep taking it.
  • Have a routine for taking your medicine. Get a pillbox that is marked with the days of the week. Fill the pillbox at the start of each week to make it easier to remember.
  • Keep a medicine calendar. Make a note on the calendar every time you take a dose. List any changes your doctor makes to the medicines on your calendar.
  • Do not decrease how much you take to save money. You must take the full amount to get the full benefits. If cost is a problem, talk to your doctor about ways you can reduce your drug costs.
  • Do not take any over-the-counter drugs or herbal treatments unless you ask your doctor first. These can change how your cholesterol medicine works for you.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it’s almost time for the next dose. Ask your doctor what you should do in that case.
  • Fill your prescriptions before you run out. And ask your pharmacist any questions you have about your medicine. Let your doctor know if you have trouble getting to the pharmacy, have financial concerns, or have other problems that make it hard for you to get your prescriptions filled.
  • When traveling, keep your medicines with you so you can take them at the right time. On longer trips, take an extra week's supply along with copies of your prescriptions. That way you can get a refill if you need to.
  • Before having surgery with anesthesia, including dental work, tell the doctor or dentist what medicines you take.
  • Some medicines may affect your heart rate. Ask your doctor if you need to check your heart rate and how often you should do it.
  • Ask your doctor if you should avoid alcohol. Alcohol can increase the side effects of some medicines. It can also interfere with how effective they are.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to simplify your medicine routine.
  • If you have trouble understanding your doctor or pharmacist, ask a friend or loved one to go with you and help you.
  • If you don't feel like your medicine is making a difference, tell your doctor.


Other Tips for Remembering Your Medication

  • Make an instruction sheet for yourself. Tape a sample of each pill you have to take on a sheet of paper. Then write down all the information you need about that pill to remind you.
  • Use special pill boxes that are divided into days of the week. They can help you keep track of your medicines. There are many types of pill containers. You can buy timer caps for pill bottles to remind you when to take the medicine. Ask your pharmacist about containers and reminder aids that can help you.
  • Ask people close to you to help you remember to take your medicine.
  • Keep a chart near your medicine and make a note every time you take your dose.
  • Ask your pharmacist to help you develop a coding system for your medicines that makes them easier to take.
  • Get some colored labels and place them on your medicine bottles to simplify your routine. For example, blue can be for morning, red for afternoon, and yellow for bedtime.


WebMD Medical Reference



American Heart Association.

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