Cholesterol drugs

Medications that are used to lower cholesterol are called statins. The way that these medications work is by blocking a substance that is required by the body in order to make cholesterol. Some researchers believe that these drugs may assist the body in reabsorbing cholesterol that has been accumulated as plaque in the blood vessels. This helps reduce potential blockages in arteries. This could also help to prevent future cardiovascular or heart disease. Some of the most popular statins are Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, and Crestor.

So who should take medications for high cholesterol? Well actually having a high cholesterol level in the blood is not the only factor that is considered when a physician determines whether a statin or cholesterol drug is the right course of treatment. There are other factors that need to be considered. First the all over cholesterol level should be over 240. Second the LDL level which is considered the bad type of cholesterol should be over 130mg/dl. Then a physician looks to see if a person has other risk factors for heart or cardiovascular disease such as a family history of heart attack or cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, their lifestyle including whether they are active or not, the person’s age and general health, whether they are overweight, have diabetes, and if they are a smoker also factor into whether or not medication will be prescribed.

More than likely if a person has high cholesterol levels and has other risk factors that are listed above, a physician will prescribe one of the cholesterol drugs that are listed above or one that is similar in action. These drugs will help to lower the cholesterol levels in the blood. However they are not the only thing that needs to be done in order to remove the risk factors for heart disease. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, changes in diet, stopping smoking and increasing activity levels in addition to medication should be implemented in order to give the person the best chance of reducing risk of heart disease in the future.

Once healthy cholesterol levels are maintained medications will have to be continued except in rare cases where a lot of weight has been lost or significant dietary changes have taken place. For most people, if they stop taking the medication cholesterol levels will return to dangerous levels once they stop taking the medication.

Most people can take cholesterol medications without any significant problems however as with any medication there are side effects that do need to be mentioned. Some of the side effects of cholesterol medication include nausea, diarrhea, constipation and aches and pains in the muscles and joints. These are common side effects and not serious. There are two serious side effects that can happen when taking medication for cholesterol that persons need to be aware of. The first is the potential for liver damage. Some of these types of drugs can increase the amount of liver enzymes that are produced by the body. If the increases are minor then the medication may be continued with careful observation. If the increases are severe, medication usage needs to be stopped immediately which usually will cause the problem to reverse itself. If this problem is allowed to go without being checked it can cause irreversible liver damage. Laboratory values for these liver enzymes need to be checked on a regular basis while taking these types of drugs in order to catch any increase in liver enzymes quickly.

The second severe side effect that can be caused by this type of medication is severe muscle pain and tenderness or sympathy. People who are on high dosages of statin type drugs are more at risk of this problem than people on low dosages. In some of the severe cases, the cells in the muscles will actually break down and release a protein into the bloodstream called myoglobin. This protein can cause kidney damage. There are certain drugs which if taken with statins can increase the risk of this side effect. Those drugs are Erythromycin, Niacin, Cyclosporin, some anti-fungal drugs and Serzone. Anyone who takes this type of medication and has muscle pain or tenderness should report it to their physician immediately.

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Last updated on Feb 13th, 2010 and filed under Drugs and Medications. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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