By the way, doctor: Should I take Pravachol and TriCor together?

Q I take Pravachol to control my cholesterol, and because of my high triglycerides, my doctor wants to add TriCor. But my pharmacist warns against taking both medications. If I don't take TriCor, are there alternatives?

A Pravastatin (Pravachol) is a statin and fenofibrate (TriCor) is a fibrate drug. They're both prescribed to improve levels of blood fats. The statins are very good at lowering total and "bad" LDL cholesterol. The fibrate drugs lower triglycerides and increase "good" HDL cholesterol. All of these changes reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and its complications, most notably heart attacks.

A potentially serious side effect of statins and the fibrates is muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis). A study by Harvard researchers and others found that this side effect — while still uncommon — is more than six times as likely to happen when statins and fibrates are taken together, compared with taking a statin alone.

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