What Happens If I Stop Taking My Cholesterol Medications?

Cholesterol Is A Natural Substance

Checking Google will show us that cholesterol is present in food; Organ meats, full fat yoghurt, certain commercial potato chips are some of the things that contain cholesterol. But what if cholesterol is not what we eat, but it is what we MAKE?

Yes that’s right, our body naturally makes cholesterol, which is actually a type of fat that helps in metabolism. We actually need cholesterol to survive! If our body makes a normal level of cholesterol, that is good for our health in many ways, including:

  • Making bile salts for us to digest fat normally,
  • One of the key ingredients to making hormones,
  • Helps in transmission of nervous signals.

Good & Bad Cholesterol: What is the difference?

In your blood test, there are 2 main types of cholesterol that make up the total cholesterol: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. LDL is known as the bad cholesterol because when in excess, it triggers formation of plaques in our artery walls. On the other hand, HDL is known as the good cholesterol because it removes LDL.

Medications for Cholesterol

Statins are a group of medications used to treat high cholesterol levels. They go by popular brands such as Crestor (Rosuvastatin), Lipitor (Atorvastatin), and Zocor (Simvastatin). There are 2 key functions to statins:

  1. Stop production of cholesterol in the body
  2. Reabsorb cholesterol that forms plaques in the artery

Usually doctors will prescribe statins for long term use as these medications are very effective in reducing cholesterol level. In addition, there is also a wide breadth of studies that found statin’s preventive effect against heart attack and stroke.

Stopping Statins

The most obvious consequence of stopping statins abruptly will be the effect on cholesterol levels. People who are long term statin users may experience a change in their cholesterol levels, some have reported an even higher LDL level than before the start of statin. Meanwhile, HDL levels can decrease be reduced after stopping statin medications.

This can also increase the risk of unwanted heart diseases. If you are above 45 years old, have a strong family history of heart conditions, have poor control over your diet, and are skipping cholesterol medications, this can increase your risk of heart attack by as much as 50%!

Newer Forms of Cholesterol Medications

As we progress in medical advancement, this brings about fresh perspective on cholesterol medications. Different types of cholesterol medications are available in the market:

  1. Fenofibrate – Reduces LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol
  2. Ezetimibe – Reduce storage of cholesterol in liver, increases clearance of cholesterol in blood

Your Doctor can advise you on these medications, so don’t feel shy to ask your Doctor if you have concerns over your current prescription.

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