Fibrates are primarily effective in lowering triglycerides and, to a lesser extent, in increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
Gemfibrozil (Lopid®) is the fibrate most widely used in the United States. This medicine for cholesterol can be effective for people with high triglyceride levels; however, it is not effective for lowering LDL cholesterol. It is used in some people with heart disease for whom a goal of treatment is lowering triglycerides or raising HDL. One study found that people with heart disease, somewhat elevated triglycerides, and low HDL who took fibrates had reduced risk for a heart attack.
These cholesterol medicines are usually given in two daily doses 30 minutes before the morning and evening meals. The reductions in triglycerides generally are in the range of 20 percent to 50 percent, with increases in HDL cholesterol of 10 percent to 15 percent.
Most people have no problems with fibrates. Gastrointestinal complaints are the most common side effect. Fibrates appear to increase the likelihood of developing cholesterol gallstones. Also, fibrates can increase the effect of medicines that thin the blood, and this should be monitored closely by your physician.
This type of cholesterol medicine lowers LDL and can be used alone or in combination with statin drugs. It acts within the intestine to block cholesterol absorption. An example of a cholesterol absorption inhibitor is ezetimibe (Zetia®).