Main Overview Cholesterol and Its Effect on Human Body
Everyone’s body requires certain amount of cholesterol for functioning, however when the amount becomes too much, it may lead to unwanted effects. An excess of cholesterol can result in plaque building up inside arteries and worsening blood circulation to the heart, which can result in acute chest pain, or angina. In cases when the blood circulation is fully blocked, a person will suffer from heart attack, which is lethal.
There are various cholesterol types -HDL and LDL. In general, the main thing you need to learn is that you need to maintain the “bad” type of cholesterol (i.e. LDL and triglycerides) stored by your body in fat cells at low levels. At the same time, the “good” cholesterol (i.e. HDL), should be kept at higher levels, since it assists in reducing the bad cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol holds a function of scavenger by capturing extra cholesterol and delivering it to the liver. When blood is tested for cholesterol, it is more preferable that your HDL levels are high. In general, HDL of 60 and above assist in reduction of risks of heart diseases.
LDL cholesterol represents “bad” cholesterol type. Nevertheless, human body still requires a small amount of it in order to build cells. When LDL amount increases over time, it can occupy the walls of blood vessels, which eventually leads to blockage of blood flow, and can cause heart disease. Likewise, during the blood test it is best that your LDL remains at low levels, otherwise it may increase heart attack risks.
Things You Need to Do to Control Your Cholesterol Levels
Once you have discovered that your cholesterol levels are high, first and foremost you are required to do changes in diet as well as fitness by reducing saturated fat and sugar, while avoiding trans-fat, as well as having more activity.
If that doesn’t reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, you may be advised by your healthcare specialist to undergo a treatment with medications to improve the situation. Nevertheless, in any case you are still required to maintain the abovementioned lifestyle habits to achieve the desired effect.
Types of Medications Prescribed for High LDL Cholesterol Treatment
When it comes to lowering of LDL cholesterol, there are few prescription medications that work. The most widespread high cholesterol medications – Statins. These will probably be the first drug type that your healthcare specialist is going to prescribe to you in order to reduce LDL. Statins also reduce triglycerides, which represent another blood fat type, and are able to slightly increase HDL cholesterol.
The list of most commonly prescribed Statins includes:
- Fluvastatin (Lescol);
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor);
- Pitavastatin (Livalo);
- Rosuvastatin calcium (Crestor);
- Pravastatin (Pravachol);
- Simvastatin (Zocor).
A number of independent studies and researches have confirmed that statins generally reduce the likelihood of unwanted “cardiovascular events” like heart attack.
Statins medications may also have interactions with other drugs, if you take any, and cause unwanted effects. Hereby, it is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor prior to initiating any treatment. The list of Side Effects may include the following:
- intestinal issues,
- liver damage (rarely observed);
- inflammation of muscles.
High blood sugar as well as Type 2 Diabetes are more likely to be treated with help of statins. Even though based on the FDA, there may be some minor risks associated as well, but in overall the benefits outweigh the risks. There were a few cases of patients suffering from confusion and memory loss, while taking statins. Those reports have gone through FDA review and in general it is observed that those symptoms were not serious and have disappeared within several weeks after the patient has stopped the treatment with that medication. In addition, it is advised that patients undergoing treatment with statins, abstain from taking grapefruit and/or grapefruit juice, since grapefruit may cause negative effect.
Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, represents B-vitamin, which can be found in some meals, and is released under prescription. Its main function is to lower down LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol. Niacin is also available under such names as Niaspan and Nicoar. Several researches have been conducted and have shown that niacin, once combined with statins, does not further reduce the heart diseases risks. Major Side Effects may include:
- tingling sensations;
- acute headaches.
Drugs that Function Inside Intestine
This kind of medications is called “bile acid resin” drugs or alternatively “bile acid sequestrants.” Those drugs get attached to bile from the liver and protect it from absorption back inside bloodstream. Bile mainly consists of cholesterol, hence this type of medications reduces body’s cholesterol supply. The list of commonly prescribed meds includes:
- Cholestyramine (Prevalite);
- Colesevelam (WelChol);
- Colestipol (Colestid).
In addition, there is a different drug kind, called ezetimibe (Zetia), which is also responsible for lowering bad LDL cholesterol via blockage of cholesterol absorption inside small intestine. Several studies have been conducted to confirm that patients who have already suffered from a heart attack, have a reduced risk of heart diseases (e.g. reoccurrence of heart attacks), when treated with statins.
The list of possible Side Effects caused by bile acid drugs includes:
- intestinal gas;
- upset stomach.
In case of Ezetimibe, the commonly observed side effects are:
- muscle and/or back pain;
- abdominal pain.
Fibrates: Targeted Attack on Triglycerides
Fibrates represent the medications that reduce the percentage of triglycerides produced by body and boost up “good” HDL cholesterol levels. The list of commonly prescribed meds includes:
- Gemfibrozil (Lopid).
The Latest Drug Type – PCSK9 Inhibitors
PCSK9 inhibitors are medications used in cases when patients are not able to control their cholesterol with help of healthy lifestyle (mentioned above) or treatment with statins. PCSK9 inhibitors function by blocking a protein called PCSK9, which results in easing the removal of LDL by the body from bloodstream.
Those meds are generally applied for treatment of adults who suffer from inherited genetic conditions, such as “heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia”, which causes difficulties in reduction of cholesterol levels; alternatively, these meds are prescribed for patients who suffered from heart diseases and require something stronger than statins. The list of commonly prescribed meds includes:
- Alirocumab (Praluent)
- Evolocumab (Repatha)
The list of possible Side Effects is yet to be finalized, since the drug is relatively new and requires time to be completely studied. So far, the commonly observed Side Effects are:
- acute pain;
- bruising around the area of the shot;
- flu and colds.
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Remember that even a thorough study of the instructions is not a reason to replace a visit to the doctor with self-treatment. All responsibility for the consequences of treatment without a doctor’s prescription lies with you.
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