Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Do We Need Them?

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Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

As the years roll by we are finding that more and more people are struggling with their elevated blood cholesterol levels.

Not really a coincidence that the Standard Western Diet is high in protein, fats, sugar and processed foods, don’t you think?

Each of these actually have an impact on low density lipoproteins and high density lipoproteins (important measurements of your cholesterol) and your triglycerides.

For some people changing their dietary habits completely is too difficult and for others genetic issues are too much for them to overcome without help.

This is where cholesterol lowering drugs come into the picture.

As with other medications and drugs, it is best if you can accomplish the same goal by changing your diet and your exercise habits but if all else fails you may want to investigate cholesterol lowering drugs in an attempt to decrease your risk for heart disease and strokes.

Cholesterol lowering drugs are used for high low-density lipoproteins (LDL). With high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, the higher the better.

The American Heart Association recommends that cholesterol lowering drugs should be considered for patients who have tried other methods – diet, activity and weight loss – but have had poor results.

The goals for therapy with cholesterol lowering drugs are an LDL of less than 160 if there is no history of heart disease and less than 2 risk factors, less than 130 without coronary heart disease but greater than 2 risk factors and 100 or less with coronary heart disease.

There are some common cholesterol lowering drugs that doctors use first with their patients because the medications have had good results.

The first drug of choice for an elevated LDL cholesterol are statin medications like atorvastin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Prevachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor).

These are easy to administer and have a high patient compliance – patients will readily take the medications.

“Common side-effects of the statin drugs are gastrointestinal, which includes constipation and abdominal pain and cramps.”

These particular side-effects are generally mild and will go away as therapy continues. Other more serious side effects include muscle disease (statin induced myopathy) and liver problems.

These drugs will also decrease your body’s supply of Coenzyme Q10.

Another class of cholesterol lowering drugs for lowering you LDL are bile acid sequestrants (resins) such as colesevelam (Welchol), cholestyramine (Questran) and colestipol (Cholestid).

One side effect of this class of medication is that it can increase the triglyceride levels so patients who have levels above 250 may chose another class of drug.

This class of drug binds bile acids in the intestines and causes more bile to be excreted in the stool.

This reduces the amount of bile acids that are reabsorbed back into the liver.

The liver doesn’t have the bile acids available and so it produces more bile by converting cholesterol into bile acid.

Because these drugs aren’t available inside the body they have low side-effect profile. Most commonly they cause bloating, cramping and diarrhea.

Other drugs available such as gemfibrozil (Lopid), probucol and clofibrate (Atromid) will decrease LDL slightly but are used more frequently for lowering triglycerides.

RESOURCES:

MayoClinic: High Cholesterol
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/statins/CL00010

MayoClinic: Cholesterol Medications Consider the Options
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol-medications/HB00042

American Heart Association: Drug therapy for Cholesterol
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Drug-Therapy-for-Cholesterol_UCM_305632_Article.jsp

RxList: Statins
http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=92461

Mercola: Do You Take Any of these 11 Dangerous Statins or Cholesterol Drugs
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/20/the-truth-about-statin-drugs-revealed.aspx

Family Doctor: High Cholesterol
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/high-cholesterol/treatment/cholesterol-lowering-medicines.html

CNN Health: Not on Cholesterol Meds? New Guidelines May Change That
http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/health/cholesterol-guidelines/

Intermountain Medical Center: Alternative Cholesterol Lowering Drug for Patients who can’t Tolerate Statins
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130311151126.htm

Texas heart Institute: Statins, Cholesterol Lowering Medicines
http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/Meds/cholmed.cfm

Health Central: Cholesterol Medications
http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/r/medications/

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