Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors for High Cholesterol
How It Works
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors lower the
amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs. So your blood has lower total
cholesterol and lower
LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Why It Is Used
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors are
used to treat high cholesterol. This medicine lowers total cholesterol and LDL
This medicine is used along with lifestyle
changes including diet and exercise to lower cholesterol. It can be used alone
or taken with a
statin or other cholesterol-lowering medicines.
How Well It Works
Ezetimibe (Zetia) lowers total
cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels in people who have high cholesterol.1
A drug that combines ezetimibe and simvastatin (Vytorin) lowers total
cholesterol and LDL levels. But taking Vytorin may
not limit hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) any better than the statin medicine
alone. But the combination of
ezetimibe and simvastatin can lower LDL levels more than simvastatin
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Before taking this medicine, tell your doctor all of
the medicines you are taking, including
over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or supplements.
Be active and eat a cholesterol-lowering diet in addition to taking this medicine. Ask your doctor for advice on a diet that can help lower cholesterol. An example is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet. For more information, see:
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you need to take this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
If you are breast-feeding, talk to your doctor before using ezetimibe. Do not use ezetimibe and a statin if you are breast-feeding.
You will have regular doctor
visits and tests to check your cholesterol level and to check for side effects.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Drugs for lipids (2011). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 9(103): 13–20.
Kastelein JJP, et al. (2008). Simvastatin with or
without ezetimibe in familial hypercholesterolemia. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(14): 1431–1443.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.