Font Size

Understanding Cholesterol-Lowering Medications (cont.)

Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors

Ezetimibe (Zetia) is a commonly prescribed cholesterol absorption inhibitor.

How does ezetimibe work?

Ezetimibe was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late 2002. Ezetimibe by itself reduces LDL cholesterol by 18% to 20% by selectively decreasing cholesterol absorption. It mildly reduces triglycerides. Ezetimibe is most useful in people who cannot take statins or as an additional drug for people who take statins but notice side effects when the statin dose is increased. Adding ezetimibe to a statin increases the cholesterol-lowering effect by a 2- to 3-fold factor.

Who should not use these medications?

Individuals who are allergic to ezetimibe (Zetia) should not take it.

Use: Ezetimibe is taken once daily, with or without food. It is often combined with statins to increase effectiveness.

Drug or food interactions: Bile acid sequestrants bind to ezetimibe and reduce its absorption from the intestine by about 50%. Take ezetimibe at least 2 hours before or 4 hours after bile acid sequestrants. Fenofibrate (Tricor), gemfibrozil (Lopid), and cyclosporine increase the blood levels of ezetimibe.

Side effects: Diarrhea, abdominal pain, back pain, joint pain, and sinusitis are the most commonly reported side effects. Hypersensitivity reactions, including angioedema (swelling of the skin and underlying tissues of the head and neck that can be life-threatening) and skin rash rarely occur. Nausea, pancreatitis, muscle damage (myopathy or rhabdomyolysis) and hepatitis have also been reported.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

Must Read Articles Related to Understanding Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

How to Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol FAQs

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like subs...learn more >>

High Cholesterol Management
Lifestyle Cholesterol Management Lifestyle cholesterol management is important to lower your risk for learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Cholesterol Lowering Medications:

High Cholesterol - Treatment

What was the treatment for your high cholesterol?

Cholesterol Lowering Medications - Side Effects

Please share your experience with statins side effects.

Cholesterol Lower Medications - Your Experience

Please describe your experience with cholesterol lowering medications.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

High HDL Cholesterol (Hyperalphalipoproteinemia) »

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is positively associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary