Reference Statins Opens New Window are the medicines used the most often to treat high cholesterol, and they often work the best. They can reduce the risk for heart attack, stroke, and early death in people who are at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. Other medicines also lower cholesterol, and some may be used to lower Reference triglycerides Opens New Window or raise Reference HDL Opens New Window.
Doctors may also prescribe Reference aspirin therapy if you have had a heart attack or a stroke, or you have a high risk for heart attack or stroke.
Do you need to take medicine? That depends. The decision to use medicine to treat high cholesterol is usually based on your cholesterol goal, Reference LDL Opens New Window level, and your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Medicine is always used along with a diet and exercise plan, not instead of it.
- Some people can try diet and exercise for at least 3 months before they decide if they need medicines.
- People who have Reference coronary artery disease Opens New Window (CAD) should start taking medicines right away.
- You may also need to start on medicine right away if your cholesterol is very high or you have:
- A Reference family history of early CAD.
- An Reference inherited form of high cholesterol Opens New Window.
- Reference Peripheral arterial disease Opens New Window.
- High blood pressure.
- Had a heart attack or stroke before.
You and your doctor will decide if you will take medicine for high cholesterol.
For more information, see:
One Man's Story:
"I don't mind taking a pill a day. As long as it's doing me some good. And I no longer have any doubts about that."—Tony
The following medicines can be used to lower LDL and triglyceride levels in the blood and to raise HDL.
- Reference Statins
- Reference Bile acid sequestrants
- Reference Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- Reference Nicotinic acid
- Reference Fibric acid derivatives
Take your medicines properly
Some people find it hard to take their medicines properly. If you do take medicine, it is important to use it the right way.
Some people don't see why they should take medicines every day when they don't feel sick. High cholesterol doesn't make you feel sick. But it's important to treat it, because it damages your blood vessels and eventually your heart, even though you don't have symptoms.
Some side effects are more likely and may be worse when you use higher doses of statins. If you're having side effects, tell your doctor. You may be able to take a different medicine or a different dose.
For more information, see:
- Reference Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
- Reference Dealing With Medicine Side Effects and Interactions.
Be sure to tell your doctor everything you take for high cholesterol, even herbs or other supplements or treatments. Sometimes they can interact with other medicines and cause problems.
If you have trouble taking your medicine for any reason, talk to your doctor.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology