Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to cardiovascular disease. When Cholestrol levels are high for long period our body tries to store this cholesterol which may be usefull in future. But this cholesterol can also be deposited in our blood pipes, which are called as arteries. This is the basis of formation of blocks in our arteries. Cholesterol deposition in arteries supplying heart leads to heart attack.
The good news is, you can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. A healthy lifestyle is the first defense against high cholesterol. But sometimes diet and exercise aren’t enough, and you may need to take cholesterol medications.
Cholesterol medications may help:
- Decrease your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease
- Decrease your triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood that also increases the risk of heart disease
- Increase your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that offers protection from heart disease
Your doctor may suggest a single drug or a combination of cholesterol medications. In all cases, lifestyle changes are important to reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke. The benefit of healthy lifestyle is over and above of that of medicine.
Medicines used for lipid lowering
Your doctor will make a decision on the type of medicine you should take based on the results of your blood test and which type of lipid problem you have.
The statin class of medicines includes: atorvastatin (brand names include Lipitor, Lorstat); rosuvastatin (Crestor). Statins work by interfering with an enzyme which the body uses to make cholesterol — this means that the body can’t make as much cholesterol as before. Statins also increase the amount of cholesterol that the liver takes up and removes from the blood.
The net result is that statins can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol by about 20 to 55 per cent, depending on the dose and the type of statin being taken. They can also produce a small increase (5 to 15 per cent) in ‘good’ cholesterol, that is, HDL cholesterol, depending on the dose and type of statin being taken.
Your doctor will advise you how to take your statin medicine. Statins should not be used in pregnancy , people with liver disease and breast feeding women should also avoid statins. Statins can occasionally cause muscle pain, which, rarely, can have serious complications. So if you develop pain in your muscles or any tenderness or weakness, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will probably want you to have regular blood tests when you start treatment with statins so that your progress can be monitored.
Ezetimibe lowers cholesterol by reducing its absorption from the intestine into the bloodstream. Your doctor may prescribe ezetimibe if you are already using a statin and your cholesterol level is still raised, because taking both of these medicines together can be more effective in lowering LDL cholesterol than taking a statin alone.
Ezetimibe may also be prescribed by your doctor if statins are not suitable for you. Ezetimibe can be taken with or without food, at any time of the day (but should be taken at about the same time each day). If you are pregnant, breast feeding or have any liver problems, ezetimibe may not be an appropriate medicine for you.
Nicotinic acid can lower LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides and also increases the ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). Nicotinic acid is often used where the lipid that is predominantly raised is triglyceride.
Nicotinic acid tablets are usually taken 3 times a day, with food. They may cause flushing of your face and neck, which often goes away after 2–6 weeks, but sometimes comes back if you have missed doses.
Among lipid lowering agents statins are most effective. Benefit of statin treatment extends beyond lipid lowering action. Statin maintain good health of inner lining of blood vessel called as endothelium. Statins have been tried and tested for 20 years they’ve been in use for over a decade and most trials, involving tens of thousands of patients, continued for five years or more.
Researchers have investigated the potential health benefits of taking statins.
There is evidence that statins may reduce the risk of:
- Heart attack and death in people with heart disease in people with or without high cholesterol
- Cardiovascular events and death in people who are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack, stroke, and death in people with elevated levels of C-reactive protein, a sign of inflammation in the body
- Cardiovascular events in women who have cardiovascular disease