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Dora Mamodesene, MD
Medicine To Lower Cholesterol
Greenway Family Health Center

Medicine To Lower Cholesterol

Why did my doctor prescribe cholesterol-lowering medicine for me?

Lowering your bad cholesterol (also called LDL, or low-density lipoprotein) can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. A number of lifestyle changes can help you improve your cholesterol level. However, if these lifestyle changes dont help after about six months to one year, your doctor may suggest medicine to lower your cholesterol.
Even if you take cholesterol-lowering medicine, its important to keep up with your lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet and being physically active can make your medicine more effective. Your doctor can give you tips on how to make healthy food choices and include physical activity in your daily routine.

Lifestyle changes

Avoid smoking cigarettes or using any other tobacco product.
Get regular physical activity.
Eat a healthy low-fat diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.
Limit how much alcohol you drink.

What are some common cholesterol-lowering medicines?

Several types of medicines are used to treat high cholesterol levels. Your doctor will decide which type of medicine is right for you. He or she may prescribe more than one of these drugs at a time because combinations of these medicines can be more effective.
Statins (also called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) slow down your bodys production of cholesterol. These drugs also remove cholesterol buildup from your arteries (blood vessels). Examples of statins include atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor), fluvastatin (brand name Lescol), lovastatin (brand names Altocor, Mevacor), pravastatin (brand name Pravachol), rosuvastatin (brand name Crestor) and simvastatin (brand name Zocor).
Resins (also called bile acid sequestrants) help lower your LDL cholesterol level. Some examples of bile acid sequestrants include cholestyramine (brand names Locholest, Prevalite, Questran), colesevelam (brand name Welchol) and colestipol (brand name Colestid).
Fibrates (also called fibric acid derivatives) help lower your cholesterol by reducing the amount of triglycerides (fats) in your body and by increasing your level of “good” cholesterol (also called HDL, or high-density lipoprotein). Some examples of fibrates include fenofibrate (brand name Tricor) and gemfibrozil (brand name Lopid).
Niacin (also called nicotinic acid) is a B vitamin. When given in large doses, it can lower your levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and increase your HDL cholesterol level. Even though you can buy niacin without a prescription, you should not take it to lower your cholesterol unless your doctor prescribes it for you. It can cause serious side effects.
Ezetimibe (brand name Zetia) helps lower your cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by your intestines. It is often given in combination with a statin.

Do cholesterol-lowering medicines have any side effects?

Like all medicines, these drugs can cause side effects. However, the side effects usually are not severe and are not experienced very often.
Common side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs include the following
Diarrhea or constipation
Abdominal pain, cramps, bloating or gas
Nausea and/or vomiting
Drowsiness or dizziness
Muscle aches or weakness
Flushing (skin turning red and warm)
Sleep problems
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if your side effects become severe.

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