Cholesterol -- specifically low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or "bad" cholesterol) -- builds up over time on the inner walls of your arteries, narrowing these primary passageways and forcing the heart to work harder to move the same quantity of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. Since healthy arteries are crucial to heart health, many doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs to heart patients.
Some of these drugs:
- Statins diminish the liver's ability to produce new cholesterol.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitorsprevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the small intestine, which would allow it to be returned to the liver and recycled.
- Bile acid resins bind to bile, disabling its function in digestion. The body then produces more bile, using cholesterol to do so -- which gets rid of the cholesterol.
- Niacin raises levels of "good" cholesterol.
- Fibrates lower blood fats that contribute to cholesterol levels.
An aspirin a day may not be a good idea. HowStuffWorks looks at the new facts.