Statins and other Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

BOSTON, MA — Although statin drugs successfully lower LDL cholesterol for most people, a small subset of patients don't respond well to these medications or need to stop taking them because of side effects. "All told, the statins are the safest and best tolerated of all cholesterol-lowering medications, but the second- and third-choice drugs can have first-rate benefits, either alone or together," says Dr. Harvey Simon, editor of the Harvard Men's Health Watch.

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

The options include fibrate drugs, which can also help boost heart-healthy HDL cholesterol; resin-based therapies, which help keep the body from absorbing cholesterol in the gut; the relative newcomer ezetimibe (Zetia), which also interferes with the body's absorption of dietary cholesterol; and niacin, which can improve LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels.

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