Statins are particularly well-suited for lowering LDL, the cholesterol with the strongest links to vascular diseases. In studies using standard doses, statins have been found to lower LDL-C by 18% to 55%, depending on the specific statin being used. There is a risk of severe muscle damage (myopathy & rhabdomyolysis) with statins. Hypercholesterolemia is not a risk factor for mortality in persons older than 70 years and risks from statin drugs are more increased after age 85.
Fibrates are indicated for hypertriglyceridemia. Fibrates typically lower triglycerides by 20% to 50%. Level of the good cholesterol HDL is also increased. Fibrates may decrease LDL, though generally to a lesser degree than statins. Similar to statins, there is a risk of severe muscle damage (myopathy & rhabdomyolysis).
niacin, like fibrates, is also well-suited for lowering triglycerides by 20–50%. It may also lower LDL by 5–25% and increase HDL by 15–35%. Niacin may cause hyperglycemia, and may also cause liver damage. The niacin derivative acipimox is also associated with a modest decrease in LDL.
Bile acid sequestrants (resins, e.g. cholestyramine) are particularly effective for lowering LDL-C by sequestering the cholesterol-containing bile acids released into the intestine and preventing their reabsorption from the intestine. It decreases LDL by 15–30% and raises HDL by 3–5%, with little effect on triglycerides but can cause a slight increase. Bile acid sequestrants may cause gastrointestinal problems, and may also reduce the absorption of other drugs and vitamins from the gut.
ezetimibe (Zetia) is a selective inhibitor of dietary cholesterol absorption.
phytosterols may be found naturally in plants. Similar to ezetimibe, phytosterols reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. Hence, they are most effective when consumed with meals. However, the precise mechanism of action of phytosterols differs from ezetimibe.
orlistat (Xenical): Its primary function is to prevent the absorption of about 30% of fats from the human diet; thereby reducing caloric intake (a drug designed to treat obesity) is by inhibiting Pancreatic lipase- an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides in the intestine.