Are Medicines that Lower Cholesterol for Me?

How Medicine Can Help Medicines that lower cholesterol can have these benefits:

  • improve the level of total cholesterol in your blood by lowering your LDL - known as the bad cholesterol - or raising your HDL - known as the good cholesterol
  • lower your blood levels of trigylcerides
  • stabilize existing plaque, which is less likely to rupture or tear and cause blood clots that can block your arteries

Sometimes, eating a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories and being physically active aren't enough to control cholesterol. If dietary changes and increased exercise don't lower your cholesterol to healthy levels, your doctor will recommend a medicine or combination of medicines to lower your cholesterol. Usually, the doctor will wait 3 months or so after you've made changes in your diet and exercise regimen before recommending medicine.

Your doctor may recommend medicine right away if any of these is true:

  • Your cholesterol is very high.
  • You have had a heart attack or have other evidence of coronary heart disease when you begin treatment.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have an inherited form of high cholesterol.

If your doctor prescribes a medicine, you will still need to follow a healthy eating plan and get regular exercise.

Fortunately, there are a number of powerful medicines that can rapidly affect blood cholesterol levels and cut the risk for coronary heart disease. They work in several ways.

  • They may lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels.
  • They may lower your triglyceride levels.
  • They may increase the good HDL cholesterol levels.
  • They may help prevent, stabilize, or slow plaque buildup.