Common medications for cholesterol

Statins block the production of cholesterol in the liver itself. They lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and have a mild effect in raising HDL cholesterol. These drugs are the first route of management for most people with high cholesterol. Side effects could include intestinal problems, liver harm and muscle sensitivity or weakness.

Niacin is a B-complex vitamin. It is found in food, but is also available in high doses as a prescribed drug. It lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. These drugs also lower raised triglycerides. The chief side effects are flushing; itching, tingling and headaches; aspirin can decrease many of these symptoms. Niacin found in dietary supplements should not be used to lower cholesterol.

Bile acid sequestrants work inside the intestine where they bind to bile and stop it from being reabsorbed into the circulatory system. Bile is made largely from cholesterol so these drugs work by decreasing the body supply of cholesterol, thus lowering total and LDL cholesterol. The most common side effects are constipation, gas and an upset stomach.

Fibrates lower triglyceride levels and can increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. The mechanism of action is not clear but it is thought that fibrates enhance the breakdown of triglyceride -rich particles and reduce the secretion of certain lipoproteins. In addition, they induce the synthesis of HDL.

Even with meds for the treatment of cholesterol you will need to augment your treatment with diet and lifestyle changes. Cholesterol-lowering medicine is most effective when combined with a low-cholesterol diet and an exercise programme.

03 September 2020

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