Cholesterol Lowering Drugs: How do They Work? What are Their Side Effects?
When a person has an extremely high level of cholesterol, the doctor may suggest certain lifestyle habits apart from cholesterol lowering drugs. However, it is always good for an individual also to know the various drugs that are available to lower the cholesterol. Read on to learn more about the cholesterol lowering drugs.
There are five major groups of cholesterol-lowering drugs. All these cholesterol lowering drugs have minor side effects, and a few are dangerous occasionally.
Group one – Bile-acid binding resins:
Cholestyramine (Questran) and Colestipol (Colestid) are the two main drugs under group one. These drugs help to reduce the bad cholesterol level by blocking fat absorption from the gut and increase the good cholesterol level. They are normally found only as powders with a vile taste. They can be taken along with fruit juice.
These drugs often cause nausea, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart burn and acid risings. However, these symptoms may last only for a short period of time. It may happen to some people and not to others. These drugs can inhibit the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which can result in severe consequences in pregnancy, childhood, during breast feeding and in those people who are taking other drugs.
Group two – Fibrates:
Some of the drug names are Clofibrate (Atromid-S), Feno fibrate (Lipantil), Bezafibrate (Bezalip), gemfibrozil (Lopid) and Ciprofibrate (Modalim). Their primary effect is to lower triglycerides. They also help to lower LDL cholesterol and VLDL, and raise good cholesterol level.
: Clofibrate and gemfibrozil can cause gallstones, so they can be used only by those people whose gallbladders have been removed by surgery. These fibrates often cause an inflammatory condition of muscle cells, especially in people who have kidney problems.
Group three – Anti-oxidants:
This drug is called probucol (Lurselle), which can lower all kinds of blood cholesterol, that includes good cholesterol. It can be used to prevent the formation of plaques on the artery walls. This drug often causes diarrhea.
Group four – Nicotinic acid and related substances:
Drugs in this group lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.
These drugs cause prickly heat on the skin, especially on your face and neck. They can also cause unpleasant sensation of blushing. However, these side effects last only for three or four days, and rarely return. Takingtoo much nicotinic acid can also cause liver damage.
Group five – Co-A (Coenzyme- A reductase) inhibitors:
Fluvastatin (Lescol), Simvastatin (Zocor) and Pravastatin (Lipostat) are some of the drugs named under this group. These drugs are very effective in lowering LDL and VLDL blood cholesterol, especially if combined with fibrates or nicotinic acid.
Inflammation of muscle cells, muscle pain, unexpected fever and headache are some of the common possible side effects. Other possible side effects include liver damage and headache. Therefore, if you take these drugs, regular checkup of liver function is recommended.