Cholesterol Medications – Understanding the Different Classes
by: Andrew Bicknell
Diet and exercise are normally the first choice for controlling high cholesterol for many people. Unfortunately there are some people whose cholesterol does not respond to lifestyle changes but with the help of a cholesterol lowering medication they can easily manage this condition. There are several different classes of cholesterol drugs and in most cases your doctor can help prescribe the one that will work best for you.
LDL cholesterol, also known as low density lipoprotein, is the reason many of these drugs exist. LDL cholesterol is the primary culprit in the formation of arterial plaque. Plaque deposits can cause blockages and clots which are a major factor for heart disease and strokes. There are four classes of cholesterol drugs whose main function is to lower LDL levels in the blood stream. These include Statins, Bile Acid Binding Resins, Absorption Inhibitors, and Fibrates. While they work very well they also can have some discomforting side affects for some people, usually of the stomach and digestive system variety. Some people experience cramps, constipation, nausea, and bloating.
Another area of concern with high cholesterol is triglycerides. Triglycerides are fats that come from both animal and plant food sources. In particular saturated fat has been shown in scientific studies to raise blood LDL cholesterol levels more then dietary food cholesterol. Statins, Absorption Inhibitors, and Fibrates moderate and reduce the amount of triglycerides that find their way into the circulatory system.
Another side to the cholesterol equation is HDL, or high density lipoprotein, cholesterol. This is known as the good cholesterol and its primary purpose is to remove excess LDL cholesterol from the blood stream and deliver it to the liver where it is excreted from the body. While Statins, Absorption Inhibitors, and Fibrates are the primary drugs that do this the increase is not large. But in the battle against coronary artery disease every little gain is considered a victory.
There are a number of different drug companies making these types of drugs which can be found under many recognizable names, including Lipitor. The current advertising campaigns in all media types have ingrained many of these drug names in our collective conscious. Your doctor is the best source of information when it comes to deciding which drug will work best for you. It is also important to let your doctor know if you experience any side affects. With the multitude of drugs to choose from your doctor should be able to find one that works well without the side affects.
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