Reducing Cholesterol

Medications Used to Reduce Cholesterol

For some people, dietary changes, weight control, and exercise are not enough to bring cholesterol to a healthy level. It's important to remember, however, that a healthy lifestyle can keep cholesterol from getting any higher. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to reduce cholesterol, your doctor can prescribe medications.
 
Your doctor will base his or her decision to prescribe cholesterol medications on more than just the blood cholesterol test. The doctor 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 ten-year risk for a heart attack.)
 
There are many types of medicines used to treat high cholesterol. The type your doctor recommends will be based on many things, like your cholesterol levels and other medical conditions. While high-cholesterol medicine may help in with cholesterol reduction, it does not "cure" the condition; you must continue taking your medicine to keep your cholesterol level in the recommended range.
 
The seven major types of cholesterol lowering drugs are:
 
  • Statins
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Fibrates
  • Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors
  • Oligonucleotide inhibitors (apo B-100 synthesis inhibitors).
 
If you do not reach your LDL 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 success
  • Reverse or slow the advance of atherosclerosis
  • 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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