There are a variety of cholesterol lowering medications on the market. These may be given individually or in combination with other medications. Statins, which work in the liver to prevent chlesterol production, are the most effective at lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). They are also modestly successful in reducing triglycerides (blood fats) and raising HDL (good cholesterol). Statins currently on the market in the United States include:
Results can be expected in 4 to 6 weeks. Side effects, while rare, include upset stomach, gas, constipation, abdominal pain, and cramps. Rarely, muscle soreness, pain, and weakness develop. If you experience this, or brown urine, call your doctor immediately.
Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors are a relatively new drug. These were first introduced in 2002. Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors, which are often given in conjunction with statins, such as Zetia® lower cholesterol levels by reducing the amount of the product absorbed in the intestines. Like statins, they are most effective in loweing LDL and have some success in raising HDL and reducing triglycerides. Most people tolerate selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors well. However, some common side effects are joint, stomach and muscle pain,
Bile acid sequestrants(resins) include colestipol, cholestyramine, and colesevelam. Available in powder and tablets, these bind with cholesterol-containing bile acids in the intestines to be eliminated in the stool. Side effects are constipation, bloating, gas, and nausea. They might interfere with the absorption of other medications you might take so you should make sure to let your doctor know all the drugs, including over the counter and dietary supplements, you take.
Nicotinic acid (or niacin) is a water-soluble B vitamin, given in doses well above the vitamin requirements. It does lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, while raising HDL choelsterol levels. Three types are available: immediate release, timed release, and extended release. You should not take nicotinic acid without advice and monitoring by your doctor, as nicotinic acid has potentially serious side effects. High blood pressure, diabetes, liver problems, gout, and other problems should be discussed with your doctor. Potential side effects include nausea, indigestion, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, peptic ulcer activation, liver problems, high blood sugar, and gout.
Fibrates, also known as fibric acid derivatives, lower triglycerides and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Gemfibrozil (Lopid®),which is most widely used in the United States, is effective for lowering triglyceride levels and to a smaller extent, raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Also well tolerated, fibrates can cause increase both the risk of cholesterol gallstones and the effect of blood thinning medications. As a result, these should be closely monitored by your doctor.
Disclaimer: This document is for informational use only, and should not be used in place of the advice and diagnosis of a doctor or healthcare professional. This document is also not a recommendation for any particular treatment plans. The advice of a doctor or healthcare professional is important for your particular condition or disorder.