Treatment and Drugs

Depending on various factors such as age, current health status and possible side effects specific choice of medication can be provided. Here are some common medications:

Bile-acid-binding resins:A�Your liver uses cholesterol to make bile acids, a substance needed for digestion. The medications cholestyramine (Prevalite, Questran), colesevelam (Welchol) and colestipol (Colestid) lower cholesterol indirectly by binding to bile acids. This prompts your liver to use excess cholesterol to make more bile acids, which reduces the level of cholesterol in your blood.

Statins:A� It is the most commonly prescribed medications for lowering cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol from built up deposits on your artery walls, potentially reversing coronary artery disease.

Combination cholesterol absorption inhibitor and statin:A�The combination drug ezetimibe-simvastatin (Vytorin) decreases both absorption of dietary cholesterol in your small intestine and production of cholesterol in your liver. It’s unknown whether Vytorin is more effective in reducing heart disease risk than taking simvastatin by itself.

Medications for high triglycerides
If you also have high triglycerides, your doctor may prescribe:

Fibrates: The medications fenofibrate (Lofibra, TriCor) and gemfibrozil (Lopid) decrease triglycerides by reducing your liver’s production of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol and by speeding up the removal of triglycerides from your blood. VLDL cholesterol contains mostly triglycerides.

Niacin:A�Niacin (Niaspan) decreases triglycerides by limiting your liver’s ability to produce LDL and VLDL cholesterol. Prescription niacin is preferred as it has the least side effects.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements:A�Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help lower your cholesterol. Lovaza may be taken with another cholesterol-lowering medication, such as a statin. If you choose to take over-the-counter supplements, take help of your doctor. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements could affect other medications you’re taking.

Effectiveness varies:
Most cholesterol medications are well tolerated, but effectiveness varies from person to person. The common side effects are muscle pains, stomach pain, constipation, nausea and diarrhea. If you decide to take cholesterol medication, your doctor may recommend liver function tests every few months to monitor the medication’s effect on your liver.

Children and cholesterol treatment:
Diet and exercise are the best initial treatment for children age 2 and older who have high cholesterol or who are obese. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends treatment with prescription drugs, such as statins, for children age 8 and older if a child has a high level of LDL cholesterol. However, this recommendation is controversial.


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