Section: Barnabas Health News

A Guide to Cholesterol Medications - In September, Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacies recognize National Cholesterol Education Month


We read and hear a lot about the lifestyle changes we can make to help lower and/or maintain a healthy cholesterol level. For some people, making these changes are not enough to reach their cholesterol goals, so they may be prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medication by their physician. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of adults using cholesterol-lowering medication has increased over the last several decades.

Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacies offer the following information to help individuals understand the different types of cholesterol-lowering medications on the market.

  • Statins. These drugs work mainly by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol. They typically reduce LDL by around one-third. They can also help raise HDL ("good") cholesterol and lower triglycerides (other blood fats). They work by slowing down the body's production of cholesterol and increasing the the liver's ability to remove LDL from the blood. In research involving people who already had heart disease, statins led to significant reductions in heart attacks and heart disease deaths. They may also prevent first heart attacks in people who are at high risk of developing heart disease.
  • Bile acid sequestrants. These drugs also lower LDL, although somewhat less than statins. These medications work by binding with bile acids in the intestines and forcing them to be eliminated in the stool rather than absorbed. The liver needs cholesterol to make bile acids, so as more bile is lost, more cholesterol from your body is used up to make additional bile.
  • Nicotinic acid (niacin). This B vitamin increases HDL and lowers LDL and triglycerides when taken at levels higher than dietary requirements. Nicotinic acid is sold as both a prescription drug and a dietary supplement, but only the prescription form should be used for lowering cholesterol.
  • Fibrates. Mainly helping by lowering triglycerides, fibrates may also lead to modest improvements in LDL and HDL levels.
  • Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors. This drug lowers cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the intestines. This, along with bile acid sequestrants or nicotinic acid are sometimes combined with a statin to help people reach their LDL cholesterol-lowering goals.

For more information about cholesterol-lowering medications, consider talking to your local pharmacist. Pharmacists at Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacies at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, Clara Maass Medical Center, Jersey City Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center are also available to answer any questions you may have. To speak to a pharmacist at any of these locations, please call:

  • Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center: 973-322-7315
  • Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Clara Maass Medical Center: 973-450-2581
  • Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Jersey City Medical Center: 201-915-2166
  • Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Monmouth Medical Center: 732-923-6111
  • Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center: 973-926-7422
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