Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

Along with suggesting that you change the way you eat and exercise regularly, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol.

Medications help to control but does not "cure" high blood cholesterol. Therefore, the medication must be continued to keep your cholesterol level in the recommended range.

Even if you starting taking cholesterol-lowering medication, you will need to continue with other lifestyle changes.

The five major types of cholesterol-lowering medicines are:


  • Statins are effective in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • Safe for most people
  • Rare side effects to watch for are liver and muscle problems

Bile acid sequestrants

  • Help lower LDL cholesterol levels
  • Sometimes prescribed with statins
  • Not usually prescribed as the only medicine to lower cholesterol

Nicotinic acid

  • Lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raises HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Should only be used under a doctor's supervision


  • Lower triglycerides
  • May increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • When used with a statin, may increase the chance of muscle problems

Ezetimibe (Zetia®)

  • Lowers LDL cholesterol
  • May be used with statins or alone
  • Acts within the intestine to block cholesterol absorption

When you are under treatment, you will be checked regularly to:

  • Make sure your cholesterol level is controlled
  • Check for other health problems

You may take medicines for other health problems. It is important that you take ALL medicines as your doctor prescribes. The combination of medicines may lower your risk for heart disease or heart attack.

When trying to lower your cholesterol or keep it low, it is important to remember to follow your treatments for other conditions you may have, such as high blood pressure. Get help with quitting smoking and losing weight if they are risk factors for you.

Reference: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Last updated May 3, 2017

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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