The Pros and Cons of Cholesterol Meds: Taking Medications for Your Health
Cholesterol meds are quite effective at helping you to lower your cholesterol, and anyone studying up on how to lower cholesterol should spend time looking at the cholesterol lowering medications in order to see which are the most effective.
Needless to say, things can get very technical and complicated. However, here we aim at making things a bit easier for you by giving you the big view via a quick introduction to the different kinds of cholesterol lowering medications with their documented effects, recommended reservations and potential side effects.
And once you have gotten back the results of your cholesterol test and read the cholesterol numbers, you need to know what the cholesterol ratio means as well as how you can use cholesterol medications and natural cholesterol lowering remedies to deal with your high cholesterol.
Cholesterol Meds: Why Learn How to Lower Cholesterol?
Many people don’t understand what the cholesterol medication does, as well as why they need to lower their blood cholesterol.
The truth is that too high a cholesterol level can be a very serious problem that may ultimately need to be treated by cholesterol lowering drugs and remedies.
Cholesterol builds up in your body silently, and there are no symptoms of high cholesterol – usually until the LDL cholesterol level is much too high.
If you have a bit of extra fat on your body, it is very probable that you have high cholesterol levels.
If you eat a diet that has a lot of fat in it, cholesterol medicine may be needed to deal with your cholesterol levels. If you don’t do much exercise and you drink or smoke more than you should, cholesterol could be a serious problem.
Understanding more about your cholesterol levels is an important part of making the healthy choice.
Easy Guide to Understanding Your Cholesterol Information
Remember that there are different types of cholesterol, and you need to understand your cholesterol information even if numbers aren’t your strong suit.
When your doctor hands you the results of your blood cholesterol test:
You Want Your HDL Cholesterol to Be as HIGH as Possible
HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol that gets rid of all the bad cholesterol in your body, and having a high HDL cholesterol level is the best way to naturally stay healthy and have low cholesterol without needing cholesterol drugs.
If your HDL cholesterol is high, it should have no problem controlling the levels of your LDL and total cholesterol, as well as your triglycerides.
You Want Your LDL Cholesterol to Be as LOW as Possible
LDL cholesterol is the stuff that your body needs to regulate hormones and do all kinds of other tasks, but too much LDL cholesterol is what causes heart attacks and strokes.
Having healthy cholesterol levels involves having a low LDL cholesterol level, which will mean that you won’t have to worry about taking drugs.
You Want Your Triglycerides to Be as LOW as Possible
Triglycerides are basically fat in storage form.
When you eat, your body converts fat into triglycerides, which it then stores all around your body.
Too much triglycerides usually means that you carry more weight than you should, and you might end up being overweight.
So as you can see, there are different kinds of cholesterol, and they are all tested to determine your total cholesterol level.
The ideal total cholesterol level is very low, but if your cholesterol level is high you may need to consider taking cholesterol medication.
Go to this LDL HDL cholesterol chart to learn more about this cholesterol balance.
Introduction to Cholesterol Lowering Medications
So, now that you know more about cholesterol, it is important to understand the different kinds of cholesterol meds that you can take to help you deal with your high cholesterol problems.
Here are the main types of medication that you can take to deal with your cholesterol:
Statins as Cholesterol Meds – Very Efficient at Reducing LDL Cholesterol, the ‘Bad Cholesterol’
Statins are designed to control the body’s production of cholesterol, and it is known to be able to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body by as much as 60%.
They help to cut back on the LDL cholesterol levels while at the same time causing a slight increase in the good HDL cholesterol, which makes them even more effective.
These drugs can also help to lower the levels of triglycerides in your body, as well as the total cholesterol levels. They are considered to be some of the most effective medications to help cut back on cholesterol levels.
The drug usually takes effect within a few weeks of beginning the medication, and they are very effective at helping to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart disorders. However, they aren’t for everyone, as they can have negative reactions in those that have a negative allergic reaction to statins, are pregnant or breastfeeding, drink a lot of alcohol, have a liver disease, or have renal failure.
Important Reservations Regarding Taking Statins
If you are taking any kind of vitamin, herbal supplement, cholesterol medication, medication for infection, AIDS medication, birth control pill, or immune system medication, make sure to tell your doctor.
Potential Statins Side Effects
Some of the side effects include pain in the muscles, vomiting, brown urine, pain in the abdomen, cramps, or gas. Stop taking the medication immediately if you notice any of these side effects setting in.
Fibrates as Cholesterol Meds – Good at Reducing Triglycerides
Fibrates are designed to deal with the high levels of triglycerides that increase your risk of stroke and heart attack, and they also help to increase your levels of good cholesterol – though only moderately.
These drugs are usually given along with the morning meal, as well as with dinner, and they are effective at helping to control the triglyceride levels in your body.
Important Reservations Regarding Taking Fibrates
Those that have a negative reaction to fibrates or who are allergic to the medications should for obvious reasons not take them.
Anyone who has a type of liver disorder should also avoid them, or sufferers of severe kidney disorders.
If fibrates are taken alongside statins, you may find that the risk of rhabdomyolysis is much greater than when the fibrates are taken on their own.
Anyone taking immune system drugs or drugs for diabetes should be monitored, as the fibrates can have a negative reaction with the other drugs.
Potential Fibrates Side Effects
Some people find that their head pains them when they take fibrates, while others have upset stomachs, diarrhea, pain in their stomachs, vomiting, and nausea.
Some people find that their muscles are sore and tired, and some people have even developed gallstones as a result of the fibrates.
For this reason, it is important that you check with your doctor before taking fibrates.
Niacin – Aims at Raising HDL Cholesterol, the ‘Good Cholesterol’
Niacin is a form of Vitamin B that is soluble in water, but it is one of the most effective of the drugs given to control the levels of cholesterol in your body.
The difference between niacin and other cholesterol meds is that niacin focuses on raising your HDL cholesterol, and it does so by as much as 35%.
It can also help to lower your LDL cholesterol by up to 20%, as well as lowering your triglyceride levels by nearly 50%.
It can be quite effective, especially when prescribed with statins.
Important Reservations Regarding Taking Niacin
Many people that have liver disorders, bleeding in their arteries, peptic ulcers, or who have a niacin allergy will find that the niacin will do more harm than good, but it is an excellent medication for anyone not in these categories.
There is OTC niacin that can be taken, but it is not recommended due to the side effects.
Extended release niacin is more effective, but taking too much can actually cause damage to your body. For this reason, check with your doctor to find which form of niacin is the best choice for you.
Potential Niacin Side Effects
One of the main side effects of niacin is flushing, which is what happens when your arteries and veins dilate a lot – the desired effect of niacin. The flushing can be managed by taking the niacin at the proper time or along with aspirin, or the extended-release niacin is less likely to cause flushing.
Many people find that most of the niacin side effects are GI-related (GastroIntestinal), such as indigestion, nausea, vomiting, peptic ulcers, and diarrhea.
High blood sugar and gout are also potential side effects of niacin, and the risk of these disorders increases according to the dosage of niacin you are taking.
Bile Acid Sequestrants as Cholesterol Meds – Lowers Your Cholesterol Levels by Merging with Cholesterol Particles
The purpose of bile acid sequestrants is to join with the cholesterol particles floating through your body, which helps the body to avoid absorbing the cholesterol.
The cholesterol particles that have merged with these drugs are then eliminated via the digestive system, thus helping to lower your LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 20%.
These bile acid sequestrants are often prescribed along with statins in order to increase the effectiveness of the cholesterol reduction, and the combination of these two drugs can cause a cholesterol reduction by as much as 40%.
Important Reservations Regarding Taking Bile Acid Sequestrants
There are some people who are allergic to these drugs, and these people should avoid taking them.
Those who have had bile obstruction in the past should also avoid these bile acid sequestrants, and those with phenylketonuria should avoid any of these drugs that contain aspartame. The drug must be taken with water or juice one or two times a day, as this helps to avoid any problems in the intestinal tract that could be the result of the drugs.
Taking these drugs will stop your body from being able to absorb Vitamins A and E, as well as a number of other important drugs like penicillin.
Antacids will combat the effect of the bile acid sequestrants, so doctors recommend waiting two hours after taking antacids before taking the cholesterol lowering drugs.
Potential Bile Acid Sequestrants Side Effects
The side effects may include bloating, gas, constipation, or nausea, but there are no long term side effects and taking the drug can be fairly safe.
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors as Cholesterol Meds – Lowers Your LDL Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors basically stop your body from absorbing cholesterol, which in turn reduces the levels of cholesterol in your body.
When you eat food, the cholesterol in the food is absorbed by your body, or at least it would be if the cholesterol absorption inhibitors didn’t stop your body from absorbing it.
It helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 20%, and it even helps to lower triglyceride levels somewhat.
Important Reservations Regarding Taking Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
This is a drug recommended for people who are unable to take statins, or for those who cannot take enough statins due to side effects.
However, if you are allergic to ezetimibe, it is important that you avoid taking these cholesterol absorption inhibitors.
You should also avoid this drug if you are taking bile acid sequestrants, as the bile acid sequestrants will reduce the effectiveness of this drug by roughly 50%.
If you are taking both drugs, make sure to take your bile acid sequestrants four hours before or two hours after cholesterol absorption inhibitors to make them as effective as possible.
Potential Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors Side Effects
Some of the side effects may include pain in the stomach, diarrhea, pain in your back or joints, or sinusitis.
Some people that get hypersensitive reactions to the drug end up with an angioedema, while very few people also get a rash on their skin.
If any of these side effects present themselves, check with your doctor.
Medication-Free Cholesterol Treatment
Remember that you don’t only have to turn to medication in order to treat your cholesterol, but there are many natural, medication-free methods of cholesterol treatment.
Why not try:
- Exercise – Getting lots of exercise will help to improve your levels of HDL cholesterol, which will in turn help to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels.
- Eat Right – Focus on eating foods low in the glycemic index, foods that contain only natural ingredients, foods that contain as little fat as possible, and foods that contain natural fats. Get lots of fiber in your diet, and cut out sugar and artificial ingredients as much as possible.
- Take Supplements – Supplements like fish oil, niacin, or Vitamin E can all have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels, and you may find that taking these supplements will be enough to help you lower your bad cholesterol.
Check With Your Doctor – If you aren’t sure what you can do, check with your doctor to see if there are any lifestyle changes that you can make to help get rid of your cholesterol.It may be something as simple as moving around more or as complex as giving up smoking, but do whatever it takes to lower your cholesterol – as medication free as possible.
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