Can I Lower My Cholesterol Without Drugs?

Friday, 04 Apr 2014 03:46 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I have high cholesterol, but can't take statins Are there other drugs that can lower cholesterol levels?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
Statins are usually the mainstay for cholesterol treatment, but there are numerous other agents that can be used to manage elevated cholesterol when statins need to be excluded.

Without knowing why you are unable to use statins, I am unable to recommend alternatives. But I recommend you see your personal physician to establish your treatment options and consider reviewing the National Institutes of Health Website for recommended guidelines. You can select what you need to know about high cholesterol and any other issues that may interest you on cholesterol management.
 
Remember that diet modification is the first line for cholesterol management. Best results are seen when a healthy diet, high in soluble fiber (ideally more than 30 grams or more per day), is adopted along with a regular exercise program. You should also take care to manage any health issues you may have that can adversely affect your risks — such as smoking, hypertension, and diabetes.
 
The following agents are commonly used for cholesterol management: niacin, cholesterol absorption inhibitors (such as Ezetimibe), bile-acid resins, and fibric acid derivatives (such as Gemfibrozol and Fenofibrate). Often, combination therapy is required.
 
Be aware that some statin alternatives may not improve cardiovascular outcomes and some combinations can be risky. In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effect, statin drugs have an anti-inflammatory effect not seen with other agents. In addition to reducing our risk of heart attack and stroke, statins appear to also protect us from dementia. Studies published in 2013 support up to a threefold decrease in the risk of developing dementia in older people on statin treatment.

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