Medications to lower total cholesterol, LDL, and/or triglycerides may be
added when diet, exercise, weight management and quitting smoking do not result
in desirable cholesterol levels. Medications are used in addition to, not
instead of, diet, exercise, weight management and smoking cessation.
There are several different types of medications that work in different ways.
Some can be used in combination with others. The timing of some of these
medications in relation to food or other medications is very important. Please
talk with your provider or pharmacist before starting them. Rhabdomyolysis is a
rare, but serious, adverse reaction – report any unexplained muscle pain,
tenderness, weakness to your provider. The following chart summarizes these
drugs, but is not intended as medical advice. Please see your primary provider
for more detailed information.
Possible Side Effects
Do not take if…
|HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors or “Statins”
Fluvastatin (Lescol)Lovastatin (Mevacor)
|Decrease total cholesterol and LDL by inhibiting
synthesis and promoting breakdown of cholesterol in the liver
||Usually mild and transient, if at all: headache,
flatulence, abdominal pain, cramps, constipation, nausea.
||You have liver dysfunction. You are pregnant or
|Fibric Acid Derivatives
|Increases breakdown of VLDL to LDL, decreases synthesis
of VLDL, inhibits cholesterol formation.
Decreases triglycerides and
Increases excretion of cholesterol in feces; reduces production of
triglycerides in liver.
|Nausea, vomiting, impotence, myalgia, increased or
decreased angina, arrhythmias, fatigue, rash.
Nausea, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, back pain,
respiratory problems, abnormal liver function tests. Dyspepsia,
abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, headache, vertigo.
|You have known hypersensitivity to these drugs. You
have kidney or liver dysfunction. You have primary biliary cirrhosis.
|Bile Acid Sequestrants
||Cholestyramine (LoCholest, Prevalite, Questran,
Colestipol HCl (Colestid)
Colesevelam HCl (Welchol)
|Decreases total and LDL cholesterol by blocking
reabsorption of bile (needed in intestinal track for absorption of
fats). More bile is excreted in feces; liver forced to make more bile
from cholesterol, lowering the amount in blood.
||Constipation, exacerbation of hemorrhoids, abdominal
pain, distention, cramping, nausea, increased bleeding due to vitamin K
malabsorption, vitamin A and vitamin D deficiencies.
||You have known hypersensitivity to the drug. You have
||Niacin, nicotinic acid (Niaspan)
|Lowers blood lipids, but mechanism of action unknown.
Inhibits absorption of cholesterol from intestines.
|Generalized flushing, itching, tingling, nausea,
vomiting, abdominal pain.
Fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat.
|You have known hypersensitivity to niacin. You have a
peptic ulcer. You have liver dysfunction. You have arterial bleeding.