You have a history of high cholesterol and have not responded to diet and exercise as a way to lower your cholesterol. You have visited your doctor and he/she said your triglyceride levels are still high, and that he/she recommends you take fibrate, a cholesterol lowering medication. What are fibrates though, and why should you be taking this medicine?
Fibrates are a derivative of fibric acid and can help lower your triglyceride levels. Fibrates are suited to lower the lipids in your blood. Fibrates are a last resort in people that cannot control their cholesterol through non-drug treatments.
Lipids are used to describe the fats that are contained in a person’s blood. Lipids are made up of cholesterol and triglycerides. The triglycerides in your body are fatty acids that are converted from the carbohydrates you have consumed, known as glucose. Once your body has all the fats it needs, the remaining fats are then stored in your liver. It then becomes triglycerides. Triglycerides are released between meals to be used as energy. If your triglyceride levels are high, it can cause heart attack and stroke.
Fibrates reduce your triglyceride levels by reducing the production of the triglycerides in your liver and by increasing the rate that your triglycerides are removed from your blood.
Fibrates are used to prevent pancreatitis in people that have high triglyceride levels. Two commonly prescribed fibrate drugs are Lopid and Tricor.
Lopid, also known as gemfibrozil, is an oral medication that is usually taken twice a day, thirty minutes prior to your morning and evening meals. Some side effects of Lopid include upset stomach, dizziness, abdominal pain, numbness of the hands/feet, blurred vision, or unusual taste. In some cases Lopid can cause muscle damage. If you feel muscle pain, tenderness or muscle weakness, stop taking the medicine right away and call your doctor.
Tricor, is also known as fenofibrate and is an oral medication. Tricor is usually taken once daily, but can be prescribed as seen fit by your doctor. Tricor comes in tablet or capsule form, and should not be switched interchangeably. Talk to your doctor before switching to different forms of this medication. Some forms of this medication may need to be taken with food, while others may not need to be taken with food. This medication must be taken whole and cannot be broken up and should be taken 1 hour before or 4-6 hours after other medications.
Some side effects of Tricor are upset stomach or constipation. Some serious side effects this drug may cause are gallstones or liver damage. Call your doctor immediately if you experience consistent nausea or vomiting, severe stomach or intestinal pain, dark urine, or yellowing of your eyes or skin.
Some other common fibrates side effects are diarrhea, allergic reactions, fever or chills, or body aches and pains.
Fibrates can interact with other cholesterol lowering drugs, such as statins. It can also interact with blood thinning medications. Talk to your doctor about other medications you are taking and their interactions with fibrates. Fibrates can take anywhere from 1- 3 months to work.
Information gathered from the following sources: