High cholesterol is a serious condition that can at times lead to heart attacks and strokes. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is necessary for many cellular processes in the body. However, too much cholesterol causes plaque build up in blood vessels. Fortunately, cholesterol can be lowered by making simple lifestyle changes and taking medication. Pharmacy 575 carries all of the top brands of high cholesterol medications.
Speak to a member of our staff to learn more about our available medications for high cholesterol.
Dangers of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol itself is vital for important cellular processes and is used in managing digestion, creating hormones and making new cells. However, having high cholesterol can be a serious and life-threatening.
When cholesterol levels are too high plaque can build up. This makes it harder for your heart and cardiovascular system to route blood where it needs to go. This can at times result in heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol may also lead to high blood pressure, and can cause chest pains and heart disease. Peripheral vascular disease and chronic kidney disease have also been linked to high cholesterol.
Managing High Cholesterol
When you have blood work done by your doctor or at a lab, cholesterol levels are one of the many things examined. There are different types of cholesterol, so it is important to review the full results to determine level of risk as well as best course of action.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered “bad cholesterol” because it results in plaque buildup in arteries. Typically cholesterol is LDL cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is referred to as “good cholesterol” because it absorbs cholesterol and brings it to the liver for so it can be removed from the body. High levels of HDL can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides are a type of fat your body uses for energy. Excessive triglycerides may increase risks of stroke and heart disease. People who are overweight or obese tend to have high levels of triglycerides.
Together, LDL, HDL and triglycerides make up your “total cholesterol” count. Your doctor will look at the overall number as well as the count for specific types of cholesterol to best understand your risks and develop a plan for improving your health.
There are some factors such as genetics (family history), sex and age that can contribute to having high cholesterol which are outside of your control. However, much of a person’s cholesterol is the result of particular lifestyle choices which can be altered to live a healthier life. Diet and exercise are some of the most important contributors to a person’s cholesterol. Smoking can also increase cholesterol.
Common Medications for High Cholesterol
Your doctor may prescribe certain medications in addition to lifestyle changes that are able to help you manage your cholesterol. There are a variety of different medications that work in different ways to manage specific issues related to cholesterol in the body.
Statins will block a particular enzyme used in the creation of cholesterol in the body. This leads to reduced levels of cholesterol. Drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol and Mevacor fall under these categories.
Bile acid sequestrants help lower LDL “bad cholesterol” by preventing bile acid from being absorbed into the bloodstream. The liver then uses more cholesterol to produce additional bile acid, which reduces the cholesterol level. Colestid, Prevalite and Questran are common brands of bile acid sequestrants.
Fibrates work by decreasing triglycerides and increasing HDL “good cholesterol” in the body. Taking fibrates can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke in people who have high levels of triglycerides. Lofibra, Tricor, Lipofen, Fenoglide and Lopid are common brands of fibrate medication.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) is a vitamin that assists with decreasing triglycerides and increasing HDL “good cholesterol”. While niacin is available over-the-counter in supplements and multivitamins, a prescription is required for the higher doses used to treat high cholesterol. Niaspan is a popular brand of prescription niacin.
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors block the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. They are often prescribed to people who for some reason cannot take other medications for high cholesterol. Taken along with healthy lifestyle changes, they can greatly lower LDL “bad cholesterol”. Zetia is a common brand of cholesterol absorption inhibitor.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help lower triglycerides and lower risks of heart disease and stroke. As a result, Omega-3 fatty acids are often used to help manage cholesterol and the risks associated with having high cholesterol. Omega-3 can be obtained through vitamins or by eating food high in Omega-3 such as certain fish, walnuts and soybeans.
PCSK9 inhibitors are a newer drug that can be used for people who aren’t getting the results they need with other high cholesterol medications. There are two FDA-medications in this category, Praluent and Repatha. PCSK9 is a protein in the liver that destroys receptors responsible for detecting and getting rid of excess cholesterol. PCSK9 inhibitors work by stopping this protein from doing its job, resulting in more receptors in the liver focused on clearing out unnecessary cholesterol.
Combination medicines doctors may also prescribe combination medicines which may contain two or more types of high cholesterol medications, or medications specifically designed to assist with other issues resulting from having high cholesterol, such as high blood pressure or increased risk of heart disease.