To reach an LDL-cholesterol goal of less than 100 mg/dL, you may need to take a cholesterol-lowering medicine in addition to making the life habit changes already mentioned. Heart disease patients and those at high risk for developing heart disease need to lower their LDL more than other people. As a result, medications are more often used by patients with Heart disease and those at high risk than by those who do not have heart disease or who have a lower risk of developing it.
Cholesterol-Lowering Medications and You
If you have an LDL level of 130 mg/dL or greater, you will generally need to take an LDL-lowering medicine. If your LDL level is 100 to 129 mg/dL, your doctor will consider all the facts of your case in deciding whether to prescribe medication for further LDL lowering or for high triglycerides and/or low HDL if they are present. If you have been hospitalized for a Heart Attack, your doctor will likely start you on a medication at discharge if your LDL-cholesterol is 130 mg/dL or greater. If your LDL-cholesterol is between 100 and 129 mg/dL during your hospitalization, your doctor may choose to start you on an LDL-lowering medication before you are discharged. Also, if your LDL-cholesterol is far above the goal level of less than 100 mg/dL when first measured, your doctor may choose to start a cholesterol-lowering medication together with diet and physical activity right from the beginning of treatment. If your doctor prescribes medicine, you also will need to:
If following a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet, increasing your physical activity, and losing weight have not lowered your risk for developing CHD after about 3 months, your doctor may consider prescribing a cholesterol-lowering medication. If your doctor prescribes medicine, you also will need to:
- Continue to follow your cholesterol-lowering diet
- Be more physically active
- Lose weight if overweight
- Control all of your other Heart disease risk factors, including smoking, High Blood Pressure, and Diabetes
Taking all these steps together may lessen the amount of medicine you need or make the medicine work better-and that reduces your risk for developing heart disease. The following is a description of cholesterol-lowering medicines.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD