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Cholesterol medication may be necessary when lifestyle changes alone are not enough to reduce cholesterol. The seven major types of drugs for cholesterol treatment are cholesterol absorption inhibitors, fibrates, statins, bile acid sequestrants, nicotinic acid, and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors, and oligonucleotide inhibitors. Statins are the most commonly prescribed cholesterol medication. While some of these drugs are available without a prescription, you should take them as directed by your healthcare provider.

Cholesterol Drugs: An Overview

Usually, lifestyle changes are the first line of treatment for lowering cholesterol. Unfortunately, treating high cholesterol with diet, weight control, and exercise does not always sufficiently control cholesterol levels. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough, your healthcare provider can prescribe cholesterol medications.
Your healthcare provider will base his or her decision to prescribe cholesterol drugs on more than just the results of a cholesterol test. He or she will also determine if you are at risk for heart disease from other problems. The more risk factors for heart disease you have, the lower your LDL cholesterol level needs to be.
(Click Heart Attack Risk to determine your 10-year risk for a heart attack.)
If your healthcare provider does recommend medication, you have several options. Your healthcare provider will make a recommendation based on many factors, such as your cholesterol levels and other medical conditions you may have.
The seven major types of drugs for cholesterol include:
  • Fibrates
  • Statins
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors.
  • Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors
  • Oligonucleotide inhibitors (apo B-100 synthesis inhibitors).
These drugs can control cholesterol, but they do not "cure" high cholesterol. Therefore, you must continue taking your medicine to keep your cholesterol level in the recommended range.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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