Cholesterol Treatment

Medications Used to Treat Cholesterol

For some people, lowering cholesterol with diet, weight control, and exercise is not enough. If lifestyle changes alone are not sufficient, your doctor can prescribe cholesterol medications.
Your doctor will base his or her decision to prescribe medication on more than just the blood cholesterol test. The healthcare provider will also look to see if you are at risk for heart disease from other problems. The more risk factors for heart disease you have, the lower your cholesterol level needs to be.
(Click Heart Attack Risk to calculate your 10-year risk for a heart attack.)
Many types of medicines are used for treating cholesterol. The medication your doctor recommends will depend on many things, like your cholesterol levels and other medical conditions. It's important to remember that medication only controls cholesterol; it does not "cure" it. Therefore, you must continue taking your medicine.
The seven major types of cholesterol-lowering drugs are:
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Statins
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
  • Fibrates
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors
  • Oligonucleotide inhibitors (apo B-100 synthesis inhibitors).
If you do not reach your LDL level goal after three months on a single drug, your doctor may consider starting a second medicine along with it. Combination therapy can increase your cholesterol-lowering capabilities, reverse or slow the advance of atherosclerosis, and further decrease the chance of a heart attack or death. The use of low doses of each medicine may help reduce the side effects of the drugs.
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