If recent tests have discovered that you may be suffering from higher than normal cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend that you begin taking cholesterol medication in addition to a diet that is low in saturated fat, low in refined carbohydrates, and high in fiber. Cholesterol is an important part of what makes up your cells, and also serves as the building block for a number of hormones. While your body's liver can make all of the natural cholesterol you need, this substance also enters your body through dietary sources such as eggs, milk, and meat. Having too much cholesterol in your blood may significantly increase your risk of coronary artery disease.
Types of Cholesterol Medication:
Usually, if you're looking for options in cholesterol medication, then you'll find that the first line of treatment is to begin by eating a diet that is carefully adapted to help you lower your levels. However, these changes aren't always enough to lower your blood-cholesterol levels, which is why medication may be used. These medications may include cholesterol absorption inhibitors, Niacin, bile-acid resin, statins, and more.
Usually, medications for lowering cholesterol are most effective when combined with exercise and a healthy diet.
Statins are one of the most common forms of medication given for high cholesterol. They work by reducing the liver's ability to produce cholesterol, thereby lowering triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. In some cases statins can also be helpful in raising the good, HDL cholesterol. Statins have been shown through a number of research studies to be effective in reducing cardiovascular events that may occur as a result of high cholesterol, such as heart disease, and heart attacks. Unfortunately, these medications also carry some warnings, in that they can cause liver damage, intestinal problems, and inflammation in muscles as side effects.
Importantly, if you begin taking statins under the recommendation of your doctor, it's important to watch out for any changes in your typical symptoms that may be a result of the cholesterol medication you have been given.
Niacin, or nicotinic acid, is a form of B-complex vitamin that can be found in high prescription doses, and sometimes in certain foods. Niacin helps to boost the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol in your system, while lowering LDL cholesterol. However, it can lead to side effects such as headaches, itching, flushing, and tingling. At this point in time, research studies have been unable to prove whether adding Niacin to statin therapy in treating cholesterol allows for a lower risk of heart disease.
Bile Acid Resins:
Another, somewhat less common form of high cholesterol medication is bile acid resin, which works within the intestine, binding to bile in the liver and preventing it from being re-absorbed into the circulatory system. Largely, bile is made from cholesterol, which means that these drugs can work by depleting the natural supply of cholesterol within the body. The side effects of these medications can include upset stomach and constipation.
Finally, fibrates work to reduce the triglyceride production levels in your body, while increasing HDL cholesterol. Examples of fibrates include Tricor and Fenoglide, and these medications block the absorption of cholesterol within the intestine.