There have been some new cholesterol lowering drugs used over the past few years, mainly in the shape of Vytorin and Zetia; unfortunately these cholesterol lowering drugs do not seem to be that effective and more medical practitioners are now reverting back to prescribing statins. Although statins are effective at lowering bad cholesterol in the body, they do unfortunately have some serious side effects with them which ultimately can be just as bad as having high cholesterol in the first place.
One of the first areas that is susceptible to damage is your liver. The reason for this is because statins can increase the amount of enzymes produced by the liver, and if this is a significant increase and is not caught it can go on to cause severe liver damage. Interestingly the drug that we mentioned earlier in the form of Zetia has also been found to cause damage to the liver, as well as cause other health concerns such as pancreatitis.The worry with liver conditions though is that they can develop without any warning symptoms, so if you are on cholesterol lowering drugs be sure you get your liver checked periodically.
Cholesterol drug warning
Probably the most common side effects of statins is the muscle pains that are created. There are several reasons behind this muscle pain but one of the main reasons is because for the statins to be effective they have to suppress the enzyme that creates the LDL cholesterol in the first place. Unfortunately, there is another enzyme attached to this one which is also affected, and this enzyme is not only a significant antioxidant that keeps the amount of free radicals in your body down, it is in fact a source of energy to every single cell in your body and long term deprivation of it can lead to serious health concerns such as the severe muscle pains and muscle weakness. In addition to that do not forget the heart is a muscle, and this too can be weakened and therefore heart failure is also one of the side effects of using statins.
Another area where people on cholesterol lowering drugs suffer is in the form of memory loss. One of the reasons for this is because your brain needs fats in it to work properly and that is one of the functions that the LDL cholesterol serves. You see the whole point with treating LDL cholesterol levels is not to totally eliminate it but just to reduce it so that there is not excess in the body, because the body does need it to function. When we start to suppress it with medications such a statins what we are doing is messing around with our bodies at a cellular level, which is just not healthy. Some doctors now believe that there is a direct link between extremely low levels of LDL cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease.
The first line of treatment in lowering cholesterol levels are lifestyle changes such as proper diet, weight loss, and exercise. Along with lifestyle change, your doctor is also likely to prescribe medication to help in lowering and maintaining your cholesterol levels. A number of prescription drugs to lower cholesterol are available on the market, with a number of them (statins in particular) advertised very heavily in the media.
The statin class of drugs is quite popular as the cholesterol lowering drug of choice. It is sometimes difficult to judge whether this is due to their effectiveness or to the massive marketing campaigns from the pharmaceutical industry. Either way, as the top selling drugs in the nation, there are a tremendous number of prescriptions written for statin drugs.
Statins are known as HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, and work in the liver to slow the development of cholesterol. Studies have indicated that statin drugs tend to work best at lowering LDL, or bad cholesterol, but tend to not be as effective at reducing triglyceride levels. A few of the current statin drugs on the market are: atorvastatin (Lipitor) , fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and rosuvastatin (Crestor). Another, Vytorin, is a combination of Zetia (ezetimibe) and the statin drug Zocor (simvastatin). In an unsettling FDA report in January 2008, it was noted that Vytorin did not reduce atherosclerotic plaque any better that simvastin given alone, and in some cases actually resulted in an increase in plaque. Beyond common side effects such as headaches and nausea, the more serious side effects of statins include extreme muscle pain and muscle disease (statin induced myopathy), as well as serious liver problems.
So really, unless there is some other underlying cause for you to have high cholesterol, such as having inherited the genes through your family that cause it, then it may be an idea to try alternative methods to lower your cholesterol levels before resorting to cholesterol lowering drugs. Some ideas to get you started could be to reduce the amount of trans fats you consume, stop smoking, lose weight and exercise more.