Hyperlipidemia is a medical term referring to abnormally high levels of fat like cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. If these levels remain high they can lead to health problems such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. Cholesterol is “packaged” naturally with blood proteins to form what is called lipoproteins. Cholesterol carried by LDL (low-density lipoprotein), commonly thought of as “bad cholesterol”, greatly increases the risks of health problems. HDL (high density lipoprotein) can actually have benefits of lowering the risks of health problems, thus it is sometime called “good cholesterol”.
Recent years have led to several new cholesterol lowering drugs. Crestor (rosuvastatin) is a newer member of the statin family. Drugs in this class block the natural synthesis of cholesterol in the liver during sleep. Crestor has similar side effects to others in this class, such as muscle breakdown. Zetia (ezetimibe), the first in a new class, actually prevents some absorption of the cholesterol in the foods one eats, an important source in those with high cholesterol. Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin) combines a drug in the statin family with Zetia (ezetimibe) attempting to lower the cholesterol by two different methods at the same time. Talk to your pharmacist if you have general questions related to cholesterol drugs.