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How Soon Will the Cholesterol Medicines Work?

Once you start taking medicine to lower your cholesterol, your doctor will want to check your cholesterol levels again. It typically takes up to 6 weeks for the medicines to achieve their full effect. If test results show that your initial dose of medicine isn't having enough effect, your doctor may decide to take one of these steps:

  • Adjust your dosage.
  • Try another medicine of the same type.
  • Try another medicine of a different type. You may need to take this alone or along with your first medicine.

If your doctor changes your dose or medicine, you will need your cholesterol checked again in 4 to 8 weeks. After you have achieved your target LDL level, your doctor should check your cholesterol about every 2 or 3 months for a year, then about every 4 to 6 months after that.

To maintain the benefits, you need to keep taking your medicine as directed. Most people who take medicine for cholesterol need to stay on it for many years, usually for life. This is because the medicines don't cure high cholesterol. They only control it. The medicines mainly work to reduce the amount of cholesterol your liver makes or to help your body get rid of cholesterol rather than absorbing it. These effects occur only as long as the medicine is in your body. If you stop taking the medicine, your cholesterol will return to its previous levels.