Statin medications are the drugs most often prescribed to lower cholesterol. Statin drugs work to lower LDL cholesterol in the liver by preventing cholesterol from forming. These drugs also work to lower triglycerides at the same time. Cholesterol patients can use alternative drugs to lower their levels if statin drugs are not possible.
Bile acid resins are used to lower cholesterol by blocking the liver from processing cholesterol in the normal manner. The liver uses cholesterol to produce bile and when it is blocked from processing cholesterol, it is forced to take the cholesterol from blood. This results in a reduction in cholesterol in the bloodstream.
This type of medication can also block the absorption of other vitamins and nutrients. Patients will be instructed to take a multivitamin to counteract this negative effect of bile acid resins. Bile acid resins can result in a ten to twenty per cent lowering in cholesterol levels and it is often used with other cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors are usually used in conjunction with statin drugs to increase the LDL cholesterol levels when side effects are experienced with an increase in statin drug dosages. Ezetimibe, or cholesterol absorption inhibitor, results in a twenty per cent decrease in LDL cholesterol levels.
Fibrates work to increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. These medications increase the effectiveness of your enzymes that break down fats in the blood. The drug also reduces the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides made in your body naturally. Fibrates help your body to eliminate more of the fats and cholesterol produced by your body that are not lowered by the medication by allowing you to excrete them.
Niacin is a vitamin that is produced in plants and is used in many vitamin supplements. Vitamin B3 or niacin is also used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. This drug is used in conjunction with dietary changes to decrease the level of cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
While cholesterol-lowering medications can have a great affect on cholesterol levels, it is important that diet and lifestyle changes be made at the same time. A diet low in cholesterol and other fats will significantly reduce the amount of cholesterol stored in the body that can lead to heart disease and an increased risk of heart attack.
Exercise is an important part of cholesterol-lowering lifestyle changes as well. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity several times a week can reduce cholesterol levels as well. Walking, running, swimming and biking are great choices to lower cholesterol and start enjoying a healthy lifestyle.