Alternatives To Statins For Lowering Cholesterol
The best treatment option for high cholesterol depends on a variety of factors. Before recommending medication, your doctor will consider several factors, including your family history, risk of heart disease, and lifestyle.
Many doctors prefer that you change your diet and exercise first. If these changes are not enough to help you, you may want to start taking medications to ease the process.
Statins are commonly prescribed to control cholesterol, but they may not be appropriate for everyone. There are several treatments for high cholesterol, including other medications and lifestyle changes.
Statins are prescription medications used to lower cholesterol. Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme needed by the liver to produce cholesterol. Without the help of this enzyme, your body cannot convert the fat you eat into cholesterol.
Too much cholesterol circulating in your arteries is dangerous because it forms plaque. Plaque buildup prevents blood from circulating properly and can increase the risk of a heart attack.
Types of statins
There are several types of statins. They include.
- Lovastatin (Atoprev)
- Pitavastatin (Rivastigmine)
- Pravastatin (Pravachol)
- Simvastatin (Simvastatin)
All statins work the same way, but your body may respond better to one type than another. That’s why your doctor may try different types of statins before finding the one that works best for you.
Some are more likely than others to interact with other drugs or compounds in your body. For example, according to the Food and Drug Administration – Trusted Sources, the statins Lipitor (atorvastatin), Pravastatin (pravastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin) may interact with grapefruit juice It has been reported that
This interaction can be very dangerous. Mixing these drugs with grapefruit can increase the amount of the drug in the blood and cause serious side effects.
Risks and side effects
While most people benefit from statins, these drugs do have side effects. The most serious side effects occur in people who are taking other medications or have underlying health problems. Many side effects go away as the body adjusts to the drug.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common side effects of statins are muscle and joint pain. These drugs can also cause nausea and vomiting.
The most serious side effects are liver and kidney damage, increased blood sugar levels, and neurological side effects. In some people, statins can cause damage to muscle cells, leading to permanent muscle damage.
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
If statins are not an option, or if you experience side effects, your doctor may prescribe another medication to treat your high cholesterol. A common alternative is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor.
These medications prevent the cholesterol you eat from being absorbed properly into the small intestine. If it cannot be absorbed, it will not reach the bloodstream.
The only drug on the market is ezetimibe, which is also available in generic form under the name Zetia. This drug can be used in combination with a statin to get faster results. However, many doctors will prescribe ezetimibe alone and combine it with a low-fat diet to lower cholesterol.
Another alternative to statins is bile acid-binding resins. These drugs work by binding to the bile in the intestine, preventing cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
They are the oldest drugs used to treat high cholesterol. They are not as effective as other drugs, so they are often used by people with slightly higher than normal cholesterol levels.
In addition, if taken for a long period of time, Sequestrants can cause vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin K deficiency is particularly dangerous because this vitamin helps to stop bleeding.
PCSK9 inhibitors, such as statins, can help lower cholesterol. These drugs are an option for people who cannot take statins.
People have a gene called proprotein convertase kinase type 9 (PCSK9). It determines the number of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors in the body. These receptors regulate the amount of LDL cholesterol that enters the bloodstream.
Alterations in this gene can reduce the number of LDL receptors; PCSK9 drugs work by inhibiting the expression of the PCSK9 enzyme in this gene.
Medications for high triglyceride levels
Many people with high cholesterol also have high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood). Some medications can directly reduce this type of fat. When these levels are lowered, the total amount of cholesterol tends to decrease.
Niacin and vitamin B-3 are often prescribed when triglycerides are high. Niacin helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL).
Niacin has very mild side effects, so it is recommended for people who do not respond well to other medications. People who take this medicine may experience the following symptoms
- Redness of the face
- liver problems
If more aggressive treatment is needed to treat high triglyceride levels, a medication called fibrates is often prescribed.
In addition, omega-3 fatty acid supplements in fish oil have been shown to help lower triglyceride levels.
You can lower your cholesterol by making lifestyle changes. These play an important role in combating high cholesterol.
To lower your cholesterol, start by losing excess weight and eating heart-healthy foods. A heart-healthy diet means reducing the amount of saturated (animal) fat you eat. It also means increasing the amount of fiber, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish you eat.
If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help lower your cholesterol levels. Other important lifestyle changes include quitting smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink.
Daily exercise is another way to combat high cholesterol. Exercise has other health benefits as well. To add exercise to your lifestyle, start with something simple, like taking a short walk each day.
Natural remedies have also been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. However, they need to be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes. Here are a few of them.
- oat bran
- blond psyllium
With your doctor’s permission, you can easily add these products to your diet. Please note that you must continue to take the medications prescribed by your doctor.
What to take
There are different types of statins and alternatives to statins. When deciding on treatment, it is important to have an open and honest discussion with your doctor.
If statins cause unpleasant side effects, changes in diet, exercise and natural remedies can help.
Once you start taking your medication, talk to your doctor about any changes you want to make. He or she can advise you if you want to reduce your dose, change or increase your medication.