In this article we will discuss the different cholestrol medication available for the treatment of high cholestrol levels.
It is important that high cholestrol is treated because it causes many problems including coronary heart disease, thrombosis and strokes. Lowering your cholestrol is especially important if you have other risk factors for heart disease like high bloodpressure.
How cholestrol medication works
cholestrol medication can be split into two main types:
– those medications that reduce the amount of cholestrol produced by the liver
– those medications that reduce the amount of cholestrol which is absorbed into the body from the food that we eat.
Types of cholestrol medication
This vitamin, when taken in high doses, reduces bad cholestrol and triglyceride levels while also increasing good cholestrol levels. Niacin, the generic name, is prescribed by your doctor as Nicolar or Niaspan. It can have minor side effects such as skin flushing, itching or tingling, and also headaches. You must tell your doctor if you experience these side effects.
Bile-acid Sequestrants or Resins
These work by binding bile, which is made from cholestrol, in the intestines to stop it being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Common brand names are Questran (generic name cholestyramine), Questran Light, Colestid (generic name Colestipol) and Welchol.
Common side effects of resins are gas, constipation and an upset stomach.
Statins or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors
This type of cholestrol medication works by blocking the production of cholestrol in the liver. They have been shown to be very effective in lowering cholestrol and reducing the risk of heart disease. Statins include Atorvastatin (prescribed as Lipitor),Simvastatin (prescribed as Zocor), Fluvastatin (Lescol), Pravastatin (Pravachol), Lovastatin (Mevacor)and rosuvastatin (Crestor).
Minor side effects of statins are upset stomach, gas, constipation, abdominal pain and headaches. They have also been known to cause joint and muscle pain in some cases. In very rare cases they have caused damage to the liver.
Fibrates (ciprofibrate, bezafibrate, fenofibrate and gemfibrozil)work by reducing the triglyceride level in the body while increasing the level of HDL or good cholestrol. Fibrates are normally prescribed for people who cannot tolerate statin medications or in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Minor side effects can be an upset stomach, anaemia, possible gallstone production, temporary blurred vision or dizziness and muscle aching. If the patient is on Warfarin the blood thinning effect may be increased.
Zetia (generic name ezetimibe)
This cholestrol medication reduces the amount of cholestrol which is absorbed from food. It is often prescribed along with statin medications to maximise the results. It has been shown to lower total cholestrol and bad LDL cholestrol while increasing the level of good HDL cholestrol.
Its side effects include nausea, fever, muscle pain, upset stomach, joint pain, headaches and possible liver damage.
Your doctor will be able to advise you what cholestrol medication is best for you. Remember that you still need to make changes to your lifestyle and keep up these changes even if you are on medication. It is the combination of lifestyle and medication that have the best effect on lowering cholestrol.
If you are on any type of cholestrol medication, it is vitally important that you have your cholestrol level checked regularly. At these appointments you can also discuss your medication and any side effects you are suffering from.