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Side Effects of 6 Common Cholesterol Medications

Cholesterol medication is prescribed to reduce the harmful effects. Mostly no side effects are experienced, but some people may experience adverse effects. Cholesterol plays a role in maintaining several body functions including cell membrane formation and hormone production. It is carried by low-density lipids from the liver to the rest of the body through arteries. High-density lipids play the role of carrying cholesterol back to the liver where an excess of it is removed.

When the low-density lipid exceeds the high-density lipid level, a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries may lead to the blocking of the arteries. This is a major cause of heart attack or stroke.

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High cholesterol levels can be managed by dietary and lifestyle changes.

Side Effects of 6 Common Cholesterol Medications

A few common medications and their side effects are mentioned below:

  1. Side Effects of Statins 

    Statins are commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. A study found that almost 30% of adults over the age of 40 years in the United States take statins.(1)

    The common side effects of statins include:(2)

    The lesser common side effects include:

  2. Side Effects of Ezetimibe

    Ezetimibe is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor that stops the intestine from absorbing cholesterol. It is also commonly prescribed.

    The common side effects of ezetimibe include:(3)

    The lesser common side effects include:

    • Itching
    • Hives
    • Rash
    • Breathing difficulty
    • Swelling on the face, lips, eyelids, feet, ankles, or lower legs
    • Extreme tiredness
    • Lack of energy
    • Unusual bleeding
    • Upset stomach
    • Hoarseness
    • Loss of appetite
    • Lack of energy
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Chest pain
  3. Side Effects of Bile Acid Sequestrants

    Bile acid sequestrant plays the role of binding bile acid to help remove cholesterol from the intestine.

    Common side effects of bile acid sequestrants include:(4)

  4. Side Effects of PCSK9 Inhibitors

    PCSK9 inhibitors disable a protein or specific liver cells to lower the low-density lipids.

    The injections of PCSK9 may cause the following side effects:(5)

    The serious side effects that might need medical attention include:

    • Itching
    • Rashes
    • Hives
    • Swelling of face, throat, lips, and eyelids
    • Difficulty in breathing
  5. Side Effects of Adenosine Triphosphate-Citrate Lyase (ACL) Inhibitors

    The role of ACL inhibitors is to prevent the liver from producing cholesterol. These are recommended alongside statins and dietary and lifestyle changes. It is given to those with familial hypercholesteremia and heart disease who need to lower their LDL level.

    The side effects of ACL inhibitors include:

    The serious side effects include:

    • Severe warmth and pain
    • Bruising or an injury to a tendon
    • Feeling of snap and pop in a tendon
    • Inability to move or bear weight
  6. Fibrates

    Fibrates are helpful in reducing LDL and good in reducing fats in the blood known as triglycerides.

    A person taking fibrate may suffer from the following side effects:

    • Constipation
    • Joint pain
    • Heartburn
    • Headache
    • Pain in arms, legs, and back
    • Diarrhea

    The serious side effects of fibrates include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Breathing difficulty
    • Skin reaction
    • Muscle pain and tenderness

    Different people experience different side effects. If someone experiences persistent side effects should make sure to discuss it with the doctor so that he recommends a different type of medicine.

Alternative Ways to Lower Cholesterol Levels

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Medications play an important role in lowering cholesterol levels. But there are other methods too that can be helpful in enhancing the effect. These include:

  • Eating a fiber-rich diet
  • Being physically active
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Maintaining moderate body weight
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