Cholesterol-lowering drugs include:
* Bile-acid resins.
* Fibric-acid derivatives.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are most effective when combined with a low-cholesterol diet and exercise program.
Statins block the production of cholesterol in the liver itself. They lower LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, and triglycerides and have a mild effect in raising HDL, the "good" cholesterol. These drugs are the first line of treatment for most people with high cholesterol. Side effects can include intestinal problems, liver damage, and in a few people, muscle tenderness or weakness.
Examples of statins include:
Advicor is a combination of a statin and niacin.
Caduet is a new drug that is a combination of a statin (Lipitor) and a blood pressure-lowering drug called Norvasc.
Niacin is a B-complex vitamin. It's found in food, but is also available at high doses by prescription. It lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. The main side effects are flushing, itching, tingling, and headache, yet aspirin can reduce many of these symptoms. However speak with your doctor first. Niacin or nicotinic acid, includes the brand names Niacor, Niaspan, or Slo-niacin. Over-the-counter preparations include extended-release, timed-release, and controlled-release. Niacin found in dietary supplements should not be used to lower cholesterol. Your doctor or lipid specialist will let you know what type of niacin is best for you.
Bile acid sequestrants
These drugs work inside the intestine, where they bind to bile and prevent it from being reabsorbed into the circulatory system. Bile is made largely from cholesterol, so these drugs work by reducing the body's supply of cholesterol, thus lowering total and LDL cholesterol. The most common side effects are constipation, gas, and upset stomach. Examples of bile acid resins include:
* Questran and Questran Light.
Fibrates lower triglyceride levels and can increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. It's thought that fibrates enhance the breakdown of triglyceride-rich particles and decrease the secretion of certain blood fats.
Examples of fibrates include:
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
Zetia works to lower LDL by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Vytorin is a newer drug that is a combination of Zetia and a statin, and can decrease total and LDL cholesterol and raise HDL levels.
In some cases, patients may be prescribed more than one cholesterol-lowering drug to achieve the desired results.
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