Different kinds of medications are available to treat high cholesterol.  There are also natural remedies. Overview of available treatments may help you understand what your doctor is trying to do to lower your cholesterol.  Your doctor may prescribe one of these drugs if you cannot reduce your cholesterol with dietary changes or natural remedies. You still need to make healthy lifestyle adjustments that we shall discuss later.
Cholesterol medications include:

  • statins,
  • bile acid sequestrants,
  • cholesterol absorption inhibitors,
  • nicotinic acid agents
  • fibrates.


How do statins work?  Statins inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase which is an enzyme that controls the rate of cholesterol production in your body.  Statin drugs can reduce cholesterol by 20% to 60%.  While they slow cholesterol production, they also increase the ability of the liver to remove LDL.  Statins are more effective at reducing LDL levels than other types of medication.
Statins also cause a slight increase of HDL and decrease both triglycerides and total cholesterol.  Observable results usually appear within 4 to 6 weeks after starting to use this medicine.
Statins have a proven record for decreasing risk of heart attacks. They also reduce the chances of strokes or other coronary diseases that are related to high cholesterol levels.  Statins are not right for some people, such as individuals who:

  • are allergic to statins
  • have liver disease
  • consume excessive amounts of alcohol
  • are pregnant or lactating
  • have renal failure
  • have a history of myopathy

Commonly used brand names for statins include: Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor Altocor, Pravachol, and Crestor.
In addition, you need to know about some drug or food interactions that may have adverse affects on your statin protocol. Drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice (more than one quart daily) may reduce your liver’s ability to process statins. Other medications can interact with statins and may have side effects that are serious. Your doctor needs to know about all other medications you use. This includes both prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements, Coumadin, birth control pills, immune system medication, other cholesterol drugs, antibiotics, and medication for HIV or AIDs or heart failure. All means ALL.
Statins rarely have significant side effects.  Contact your doctor immediately if your muscles are sore or you experience pain, weakness, vomiting, discolored urine, or stomach pain. Stop the medication.

Bile Acid Sequestrants

Bile acid sequestrants combine with bile acids containing cholesterol in the intestines and then they are eliminated in your stool.  They do not lower triglycerides. They usually lower LDL (bad cholesterol) by 10 to 20% even when taken in small doses. Sometimes they are sometimes prescribed in combination with a statin.  Together these two drugs may reduce LDL by more than 40%. 
Bile acid sequestrants are not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.  This technique has been in use for more than thirty years. It is considered safe for long term use. 
If you have an allergy to bile acid sequestrants or have a medical history of bile obstruction, you should not take this medication. Again, be sure you have given your doctor a thorough list of all medications you are using in order to prevent negative drug interactions. 

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