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What Are Antihyperlipidemic Agents?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2014
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Antihyperlipidemic agents are medications that act to lower levels of lipids in the blood, addressing dangerously high cholesterol and reducing the risks of conditions like cardiopulmonary artery disease. These compounds are also known as hypolipidemic or lipid lowering drugs, all references to their primary function in the body. A number of types are available, allowing a doctor to select the best medication for the patient on the basis of cholesterol profile, underlying disease, and other factors.

These drugs can inhibit absorption, encourage the body to eliminate more lipids in the feces, and boost levels of good cholesterol with the goal of lowering bad cholesterol. Patients may take antihyperlipidemic compounds with other medications to manage disease, and could also require dietary modifications to address health care concerns. These can include taking steps to limit lipid intake, and adjusting the composition of the diet to consume more healthy fats and fewer dangerous fats.

Statins are a well known example of an antihyperlipidemic drug. Patients can also take niacin, bile acid sequestrants, and fibrates, depending on the reason for high lipid levels in the body. All these drugs have different mechanisms of action. They can take weeks to work, and a doctor may recommend adjusting the dosage and making other changes to provide a patient with an adequate level of treatment. While on these medications, patients can experience side effects, which vary depending on the drug.

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When a patient has hyperlipidemia, an unusually high concentration of lipids in the blood, a doctor will usually try conservative methods to treat the condition. These can include diet and exercise modifications to see if it's possible to get the patient healthy. If these measures do not work, a doctor can consider treatment with an antihyperlipidemic agent, where the medication will lower and control blood lipids to keep the patient healthy and stable.

High lipid levels can lead to issues like plaques and obstructions in the arteries, potentially causing serious medical complications. A patient in treatment for high blood cholesterol will need regular followup appointments to check for changes in blood chemistry and determine if additional treatment is necessary. If a patient's lipid levels can be brought under control, it may be possible to go off antihyperlipidemic medication and use diet alone to keep the concentrations manageable in the future. Long-term treatment situations will depend on the individual patient, however. People with a history of health problems related to blood lipids will also want to regularly visit a doctor to check for signs of recurrence or complications like compromised heart health.

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