Valisure intern Karine Bruce-Doe is a senior at New York University.
Lowering cholesterol with diet is one of the most effective ways to control high cholesterol. But if your cholesterol is above normal, your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to help you gain control of your high cholesterol.
Also known as HMG-CoA inhibitors, statins are the most common treatment for treating high cholesterol. Statins inhibit the production of LDL by the liver. Examples of statins include atorvastatin (brand: Lipitor), fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin (brand: Pravacol), rosuvastatin (brand: Crestor), and simvastatin (brand: Zocor).
Bile Acid Sequestrants
Bile acid sequestrants such as colesevelam (brand: Welchol) and colestipol (Brand: Colestid), reduce LDL levels by minimizing the amount of fat the body absorbs from food. A common side effect when taking bile acid sequestrants is gastrointestinal symptoms.
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
Similarly to bile acid sequestrants, this class of medications controls levels of LDL cholesterol by keeping cholesterol in the digestive system and preventing it from entering the circulatory system; the only difference is that this process takes place in the small intestine instead of the liver. An example of this medication is Ezetimibe.
Niacin is a B vitamin also known as nicotinic acid or B3. B vitamins are responsible for the function of the brain and cell metabolism. They achieve this by converting consumed food into usable energy. Niacin is known for lowering triglycerides and boosting HDL, which indirectly lowers LDL. Niacin is available as a prescription drug or an OTC medication.
Fibrates, also known as fibric acid derivatives, lower triglycerides and raise HDL levels. Fibrates also expedite the excretion of triglycerides from the blood. Examples of this medication include gemfibrozil and fenofibrate.
This drug class is a newer treatment for high cholesterol. This drug allows the liver to remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. Unlike other high cholesterol treatments, it is injected into the body and not consumed by mouth. As a result, on-site itchiness and soreness may be experienced by users of this medication.
Some of these medications may be taken together as determined by your doctor as an effective treatment.
More information on High Cholesterol:
- What is High Cholesterol?
- Are You High-Risk for High Cholesterol?
- Low-Stakes Ways to Manage Your High Cholesterol
- Common Medications For High Cholesterol