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Problems of cholesterol medications

Updated on August 3, 2013

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in many oily foods. It is also synthesized by the human body. Increased levels of cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol in the blood is one of the factors important in causation of cardiovascular diseases. So the doctors prescribe broad range of drugs to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Some inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol and other medications inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the gut. But most of these drugs can have side effects.

What are the main classes of drugs?

Statin drugs, fibrates, nicotinic acid, cholesterol absorption inhibitors and bile acid sequestrants are major classes of cholesterol medications.

Cholesterol molecule
Cholesterol molecule

What are the problems of statins (Lipitor ®, Alticor ®, Lescol ®)?

Statins are the most popular class of cholesterol medications. They inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol by the body. The main side effects associated with statins are the destruction of liver cells and abnormal muscle break down. The destruction of liver cells can cause loss of appetite, discoloration of nausea, vomiting, malaise, and jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the body).Muscle breakdown is manifested as muscle pain and muscle weakness.

Some patients may have abdominal distension and constipation with this medicine. But over the counter constipation drugs can prevent constipation.

What are the problems of fibrates (Trico ®, Lopid ®)?

Fibrates reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Similar to statin drugs, fibrates can cause liver damage. So the symptoms of liver disease, such as loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and anorexia may also occur with fibrates.

In addition, fibrates increase the incidence of gallstones. So if you have any dull pain associated with food intake and prolonged indigestion, then you should seek medical advice. This medicine may also cause abnormal muscle breakdown. In addition, fibrates can cause pancreatitis. This can cause severe abdominal pain.

Fibrates should not be used during pregnancy. Fetal malformations and fetal death was clearly demonstrated with this medication. Fibrates may cause serious problems in babies as well. Therefore it should not be used during lactation and pregnancy.

What are the problems of bile acid sequestrants (Questran ®, Cholestagel ®, Colestid ®)?

The main problems of these drugs are gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal bloating. In addition, muscle toxicity can occur and characterized by muscle pain.

What are the problems of ezetimibe (Ezetrol ®)?

This is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor. The main side effects are gastrointestinal disturbances and fatigue.

What are the problems of nicotinic acid?

Nicotinic acid derivatives are useful only when statins have failed. They cause some annoying side effects such as flushing, increased heart rate and headaches. They are caused by abnormal arterial dilatation.


Anti cholesterol medications are prescribed for increased cholesterol in the body. However, some medications have their own problems. One of the most common issue is liver damage and muscle damage.


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    • profile image 6 years ago

      Interesting! I am going to have to talk to my doctor. Thanks for the information.