If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it is important that you educate yourself on the subject in order to take an active part in lowering your cholesterol levels. Many physicians will prescribe both a change in diet and a medication. It is vital that the patient learn the types of cholesterol-lowering medications and how they work in the body.
Statins are prescribed to prevent the liver from producing cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, this causes the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood. Statins that are currently available include Lipitor (atorvastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Altoprev and Mevacor (lovastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Zicor (simivastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin).
The liver makes cholesterol to use in production of bile. Bile-acid-binding resins attach to the bile acids, causing the liver to use more cholesterol than it normally does. When effective, this type of medication lowers the overall cholesterol levels in the body. Resins available for prescription are L-Cholest, Prevalite and Questran (cholestyramine), Welchol (colesevelam) and Colestid (colestipol).
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
Absorption inhibitors block the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by the small intestine. The medication Zetia (ezetimibe) is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor that may be prescribed with a statin medication; Vytorin (simvastatin and ezetimibe combined) is a statin combined with a cholesterol absorption inhibitor.
Fibrates lower triglycerides while raising HDL, the "good" cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, commonly prescribed fibrates are Lofibra and Tricor (fenofibrate), Bezalip (bezabifrate) and Lopid (gemifibrozil).
Niacin may be prescribed in the form of the medication Niaspan in order to lower triglycerides. Niacin works by lowering the liver's ability to produce VLDL and LDL cholesterol. The combination niacin and statin drugs Avicor and Simcor may also be prescribed. The American Heart Association warns that dietary supplement niacin should not be substituted for prescription niacin, as dietary supplements are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.