High Cholesterol Treatment
Your WellStar physician may prescribe lifestyle changes, medication or a combination of both to get your cholesterol levels within the optimum ranges.
Taking Care of High Cholesterol
Your physician may ask you to adjust your lifestyle to include the following, if they are not already part of your daily habits:
- Take part in some kind of physical activity for 30 minutes each day
- Eat a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-fiber foods, fat-free foods and low-fat dairy.
- Limit carbohydrates to less than 60 percent of total calories
- Stop smoking and limit exposure to second-hand smoke
- Treat high blood pressure, if needed
- Limit alcohol consumption
Your physician may prescribe one or more of the following medications to increase your HDL (good cholesterol), lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) or lower your triglycerides:
- Statins: They prevent cholesterol from forming in the liver. These medications can lower LDL, may sometimes raise HDL and may sometimes lower triglycerides. Your physician can discuss side effects with you. Among the statins available in the United States: Atorvastatin (Lipitor®); Fluvastatin (Lescol®); Lovastatin (Mevacor®, Altoprev™); Pravastatin (Pravachol®); Rosuvastatin Calcium (Crestor®) and Simvastatin (Zocor®). Some combination medications include statins: Advicor® (lovastatin + niacin); Caduet® (atorvastatin + amlodipine); and Vytorin™ (simvastatin + ezetimibe).
- Selective Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors: These medications prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. They can lower LDL, may slightly raise HDL and may slightly lower triglycerides. Your physician may prescribe ezetimibe (Zetia®) for this purpose. Your physician can discuss side effects with you. Resins: Also known as bile acid-binding drugs, resins lower LDL by helping the intestines to get rid of more of the bad cholesterol. These drugs bind to bile, preventing it from being used in the digestive process so that the body will make more bile. Because the body needs cholesterol to make bile, the added production causes the body to use additional LDL. Among the medications your physician may prescribe: Cholestyramine (Questran®, Questran® Light, Prevalite®, Locholest®, Locholest® Light); Colestipol (Colestid®); Colesevelam Hcl (WelChol®)
- Fibrates: Fibric acid derivatives are prescribed to lower triglycerides. They also sometimes raise HDL (good cholesterol). Your physician may prescribe these in combination with statins. Medications include Gemfibrozil (Lopid®); Fenofibrate (Antara®, Lofibra®, Tricor®, and Triglide™);Clofibrate (Atromid-S).
- Niacin: Nicotinic acid alters production of blood fats in the liver, which typically means higher HDL levels. Note that nonprescription immediate-release forms are not recommended, because their side effects may be more pronounced. You should also avoid dietary supplements of niacin as a way to control cholesterol. Your physician may monitor your liver function if you are taking niacin.
In every case, your WellStar physician will help you weigh the benefits of each treatment approach and make an experienced recommendation for the best outcome. You can feel confident your decision will be based on both your input and the expertise and recommendations of your experienced physician.