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Cholesterol-lowering Medications

Learn about the different types of cholesterol-lowering medications available and the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is right for you.
2023-03-14

Review of Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the blood that is necessary for certain body functions. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to a number of health issues, including heart disease and stroke. Therefore, it is important to control cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, as well as medications that are specifically designed to lower cholesterol. This article will provide an overview of some of the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications.

Statin Drugs

Statin drugs are the most commonly used medications to treat high cholesterol. They work by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is necessary for making cholesterol. This decreases the amount of cholesterol that is produced, ultimately leading to lower levels in the blood. Statins are generally well tolerated and have few side effects, although they can occasionally cause muscle and liver problems. The most well-known statin drugs are atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor).

Bile Acid Sequestrants

Bile acid sequestrants (BAS) are another type of cholesterol-lowering medication. They work by binding to bile acids in the digestive tract, which prevents them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. This reduces the amount of cholesterol that is produced in the liver, leading to lower levels in the blood. Examples of BAS drugs include cholestyramine (Questran) and colestipol (Colestid).

Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors

Cholesterol absorption inhibitors (CAIs) are a newer type of cholesterol-lowering medication. These drugs work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines, which prevents it from entering the bloodstream. Examples of CAIs include ezetimibe (Zetia) and avanafil (Lofibra).

Niacin

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that has also been used as an effective cholesterol-lowering medication. It works by increasing the production of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which helps to decrease the levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood. Niacin is available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms, although the prescription form is usually more effective.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in certain foods, such as fish, nuts, and seeds. They have been shown to be effective in lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol levels, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms, but the prescription form is usually more effective.

Conclusion

Cholesterol-lowering medications can be an effective way to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Statins are the most commonly used type of cholesterol-lowering medication, but there are several other types of drugs available, such as bile acid sequestrants, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to talk to a doctor about the best option for you, as each medication has different side effects and may not be suitable for everyone.

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