When exercising, losing weight, and dietary changes do not reduce cholesterol to the desired level, medication may be necessary. Major types of medicine for cholesterol include statins, fibrates, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and nicotinic acid, among others. Statins are prescribed the most frequently, and are often combined with bile acid sequestrants to lower "bad" cholesterol levels by over 40 percent.
The first step in cholesterol treatment involves lifestyle changes; however, for some people, treating high cholesterol with diet, weight control, and exercise is not enough. If lifestyle changes alone are not effective, your doctor can prescribe cholesterol medicine.
Your healthcare provider will base his or her decision to prescribe medicine on more than just the results of a cholesterol test. He or she will also look to see if you are at risk for heart disease from other problems. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you will need to be on a statin and the higher the statin dose that will be recommended.
(Click Heart Attack Risk to determine your 10-year risk.)
The type of medicine for cholesterol your doctor recommends will be based on many things, like your cholesterol levels and other medical conditions.
The seven major types of medication used to treat high cholesterol include:
- Bile acid sequestrants
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- Nicotinic acid
- Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors
- Oligonucleotide inhibitors (apo B-100 synthesis inhibitors).
Medicine does not "cure" high cholesterol; you must continue taking it to keep your cholesterol level in the recommended range.