Your body needs cholesterol to work properly. But cholesterol levels that are too high can be life threatening.
When you have extra cholesterol in your blood, it builds up inside the walls of your heartâ€™s arteries (blood vessels). This buildup is called plaque. It narrows your arteries and reduces, or even stops, the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack, stroke, or other serious heart disease.
See also: Cholesterol and lifestyle
Total cholesterol is the amount of all of the fats in your blood. These fats are called lipids. Several different types of lipids make up your total cholesterol.
High cholesterol, especially "bad" cholesterol (LDL), can clog your arteries, which may reduce blood flow to your heart. This can lead to heart disease, stroke, or heart attack. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
Your HDL cholesterol is called "good" cholesterol. You want your HDL cholesterol to be high.
Your doctor may want you to take medicine for your cholesterol. This will depend on your age and whether or not you smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have diabetes.
Once you start taking cholesterol medicine, you will probably take it for the rest of your life. Sometimes, if you change your lifestyle and lose a lot of weight (and keep it off), you can stop taking cholesterol medicine. But you will always need to be aware that you still have a cholesterol problem.
Some cholesterol medicines work best when you take them at bedtime. For others, the time of day doesnâ€™t matter. You should take some of these medicines with food. You should take your medicine at the same time every day. This makes it easier to remember to take it. It also makes you less likely to confuse different pills you may be taking.
Remember to take your medicine as directed. Some helpful aids are using a special pill box labeled with the time of day, setting alarms, or putting a reminder note in a place you are sure to see it. Keep in mind that being "on a pill" doesnâ€™t mean anything if you forget to take it.
Make sure you tell your doctor about all other medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. They may change the way your cholesterol drug works. Ask your doctor if you should avoid any particular foods or drinks.
Understand the side effects of your medicine. If you have any side effects, call your doctor.
Ask your doctor what you should do if you miss a dose of medicine. Keep all appointments with your doctor. Regular blood tests will tell your doctor how the drug is working. Plan ahead for refills and travel so that you do not run out.
Keep these and all other medicines stored in a cool, dry place where children cannot get to them.
There are several kinds of drugs to help lower blood cholesterol levels. They work in different ways. Some help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, some help lower triglycerides, and others help raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
Your doctor will prescribe the best medicine for you. Sometimes you may need to take more than one cholesterol-lowering drug.
Statins are one kind of drug that lower cholesterol. They are:
Resins are another kind of drug that lowers cholesterol. They are:
Fibrates are a third kind of drug that lowers cholesterol. They are:
Nicotinic acid (niacin) also helps lower cholesterol. (People with diabetes should NOT take this drug.)
When your doctor prescribes medicine to lower your cholesterol, ask:
Call your doctor if you:
Hyperlipidemia - drug treatment