Alternatives to Statins
If you are experiencing side effects with statins, alternatives to these cholesterol medications are available. Possibilities include niacin, bile acid sequestrants, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and fibrates. Several natural products and dietary supplements are claimed to promote healthy cholesterol. However, just because a dietary supplement is said to promote healthy cholesterol, it does not mean that it is an effective, safe alternative.
Alternatives to Statins: An IntroductionLifestyle changes are the first line of treatment for lowering cholesterol. However, for some people, diet, weight control, and exercise are not enough to sufficiently lower cholesterol. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough, your healthcare provider can prescribe cholesterol medications. Statins are among the most popular and most effective cholesterol medications. For most people, statins are quite effective in lowering cholesterol. They are also generally well tolerated. However, some people do experience statin side effects. People experiencing such side effects may wish to consider an alternative to statins.
Using Other Types of Cholesterol Medicines as Statin AlternativesMany types of cholesterol medicines are available. Besides statins, the four other major classes of these medications are:
- Bile acid sequestrants (Prevalite®, Questran®, Questran Light®, LoCholest®, Colestid®, WelChol®)
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors (Zetia®)
- Niacin (nicotinic acid, Niacor®, Nicolar®, Niaspan®)
- Fibrates (Lopid®, Tricor®, Antara®, Lipofen®, Triglide®, Lofibra™).
Combination medicines (a statin plus another cholesterol medication) also are available, such as Vytorin®, Simcor®, or Advicor®.
For lowering cholesterol, the type of medicine your healthcare provider recommends will be based on many things, such as your cholesterol levels (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides), heart disease risk factors, and other medical conditions. Each of these types of cholesterol medication works a little differently, so depending on your situation, these possible statin alternatives may or may not make sense for you.
(Click Cholesterol Medications to learn more about these other classes of cholesterol medicines and whether these alternatives make sense in your situation.)