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Drugs For Cholesterol and Triglycerides

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Updated November 12, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

An important part of preventing heart disease is to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels from getting too high. While some people can reach their target levels with diet and exercise, many cannot. If diet and exercise are not enough for you, or, especially, if your risk for cardiovascular disease is particularly elevated, chances are that your doctor will want you to begin taking prescription medication.

Several types of medications have been developed for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The medication that's right for you depends on several factors, such as your level of cardiovascular risk, whether or not you already have cardiovascular disease, how well you tolerate medications, and whether the chief goal is to reduce LDL cholesterol, to reduce triglycerides, or to increase HDL cholesterol.

Whatever treatment has been prescribed for you, you should know something about the specific drugs you are taking. You should know what these drugs are supposed to do for you, and what side effects are possible. The following is a list of the most common medications used to treat cholesterol and triglycerides, divided into their various classes. Simply click on the name of the drug(s) you are taking for the details you need.

The Statins

The statins are the most effective drugs used to treat cholesterol levels. You can find a general discussion of the statins here.
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Lescol (fluvastatin)
  • Mevacor (lovastatin)
  • Livalo (pitavastatin)
  • Pravachol (pravastatin)
  • Zocor (simvastatin)
  • Crestor (rosuvastatin)

The Fibrates

  • Antara (fenofibrate)
  • Lopid (gemfibrozil)

The Bile Acid Sequestrants

  • Questran (cholestyramine)
  • Colestid (colestipol)
  • Welchol (colesevelam)

Nicotinic Acid

  • Niaspan (nicotinic acid)

Ezetimibe

  • Zetia (ezetimibe)
  • Vytorin (ezetimibe plus simvastatin)
Source:

National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) final report. Circulation 2002; 106:3143.

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