High Cholesterol

A Quick Guide on Cholesterol Medications

There are several ways to keep your cholesterol under control. You need to use all of them. Exercising, dietary precautions, and certain remedies are those that you can use at your home. However, sometimes, doing all this still is not sufficient in lowering your cholesterol to manageable proportions. If you face this issue, you need to meet your doctor.

Your doctor will then prescribe you one of several pharmaceutical medications to enable the lowering of your blood cholesterol. There are several such classes of cholesterol medications. One of these is known by the term statins. This group of medications helps in lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in your bloodstream.

However, a disadvantage of using statins is that they also lower high density lipoprotein (HDL) in the bloodstream. You may already be aware that the surfeit of HDL in blood helps remove LDL cholesterol deposits from the bloodstream and transports it to the liver for eventual disposal.

Therefore, statins, while they do help lower LDL cholesterol, are not as effective as other cholesterol medications. Another disadvantage of statins is that their use results in several side effects that include diarrhea, muscle cramps, stomach pain, nausea, and constipation. Some of the statins include simvastatin, lovastatin, fluvastatin, atorvastatin, and rosuvastatin.

Some other cholesterol lowering medications are resins that act by binding bile acid. They essentially lower LDL cholesterol in the blood. Some of these medications include colestipol, colesevelam, and cholestyramine. They give rise to constipation, nausea, and bloating as side effects. Their use can also result in the increase of triglyceride levels in your blood which you do not want.

Some cholesterol medications act by lowering the rate of cholesterol absorption into your bloodstream. Ezetimibe is one such medication that helps decrease LDL cholesterol. It also helps to slightly decrease triglycerides and also increase HDL a wee bit in your blood. It gives rise to certain side effects such as fatigue, muscle soreness, and stomach pain.

In a variation of the above, some doctors prescribe a combination of simvastatin with Ezetimibe. The use of the combination helps to better increase HDL levels in the blood, while still decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. But then, the side effects are much wider with this combination. They also include gas formation, pain and weakness, and muscular soreness.

In some patients, it is observed that cholesterol levels are not much. However, there is a surfeit of triglycerides in the bloodstream coupled with lower than optimum HDL levels that will endanger your heart. Doctors generally prescribe a class of cholesterol medications known as fibrates to such patients.

Fenofibrate and gemfibrozil are the standard medications of this class. Their use helps in increasing HDL levels in the blood while lowering that of triglycerides. Their use is not bereft of side effects. Some common effects include gallstones, stomach pain and nausea.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin), when used in combination with lovastatin has been found to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while lowering triglycerides, and increasing the beneficial HDL in the blood. The side effects include flushing of the neck and face, sweating, and possible interaction with grapefruit juice.