The prescription drugs you’re likely to receive if you have high cholesterol
I believe the push to lower cholesterol levels has gone too far, and that cholesterol has been undeservingly vilified.
By itself, cholesterol is essential for good health. Forcing it too far downward—especially with prescription medications—can have a negative impact on your body's ability to manufacture adrenal and sex hormones, bile acids, and nutrients such as vitamin D—not to mention its ability to construct cell membranes, heal wounds, and make repairs within the cardiovascular system. And if that weren't enough, large amounts of cholesterol are used by the brain yo facilitate cell communication and memory.
For those reasons, I never prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication to people who have no evidence of heart disease. Cholesterol-reducing lifestyle adjustments are just as effective and far healthier for these folks. See the dietary changes, supplements, and exercise strategies I recommend to achieve healthy cholesterol levels without medication.
That said, there are times when people with documented coronary artery disease and inflammation-prone cholesterol may need the extra help afforded by an anti-cholesterol medication. (Get more information about who should consider taking anti-cholesterol medications.) If you’re one of the people who fall into this category, your doctor will likely prescribe one of two types of drugs:
- Statin drugs. Statin drugs—potent anti-inflammatory medications also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors—are the most aggressively marketed and popular cholesterol-lowering drugs. In clinical studies, statins have achieved striking reductions in coronary events such as heart attack, bypass, and hospitalization. Yet these drugs are not for everyone due to the many negative side effects they can cause. Learn more about statin drugs and their potentially dangerous side effects and whether you are a good candidate for this medication .
- Bile acid sequestrants. This class of anti-cholesterol agents can be quite effective when it comes to ejecting cholesterol from your system. But they also can have some serious side effects mostly due to way they block absorption of certain drugs and nutrients. Find out about bile acid sequestrants and their potentially serious side effects.
WATCH: Is Taking a Statin Drug the Right Choice for You?
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Healthy Cholesterol Levels
What numbers indicate high cholesterol? Get my recommendations on what constitutes healthy cholesterol levels.
What tests do you need to accurately assess your cholesterol levels? Find out which tests can flag the most dangerous subtypes of cholesterol.
Is it possible to lower cholesterol naturally? Learn which supplements can help lower your cholesterol levels.