Frequently Ask Questions
There are many medications available to help lower elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, but only a few for increasing HDL cholesterol. Each category of medication targets a specific lipid and varies in how it works, how effective it is, and how much it costs. Your healthcare provider will recommend a medication or combination of medications based on blood lipid levels and other individual factors.
Statins are among the most powerful drugs for lowering LDL cholesterol and are the most effective drugs for prevention of coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and death. These medications decrease the body’s production of cholesterol and can reduce LDL levels by as much as 20 to 60 percent. In addition, statins can lower triglycerides and slightly raise HDL cholesterol levels.
PCSK9 inhibitors :
PCSK9 inhibitors are a newer class of drug that lower LDL cholesterol levels. Drugs in this class also lower levels of other lipoproteins, such as lipoprotein(a), that can cause buildup of blood vessel plaques. The PCSK9 inhibitors reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 60 to 70 percent.
Ezetimibe (brand name: Zetia) impairs the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food as well as cholesterol that the body produces internally. It lowers LDL cholesterol levels and has relatively few side effects. When used in combination with a statin in treatment after an acute coronary syndrome (eg, heart attack), ezetimibe provides a small additional reduction in cardiovascular events.
Bile acid sequestrants :
The bile acid sequestrants bind to bile acids in the intestine, reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed from foods.
Nicotinic acid (Niacin) :
Nicotinic acid may be recommended for people with elevated cholesterol levels that do not respond adequately despite maximum tolerated dosages of statins and for people with some types of familial hyperlipidemia, particularly those with high lipoprotein(a) levels.
Fibrate medicationss may be recommended for people with elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels.