Drugs and Foods to Avoid With Cholesterol Meds

Cholesterol drugs can interact with a wide variety of foods and other drugs. Find out which ones you need to be aware of while taking your specific medication.

Now that you have started taking your cholesterol-lowering medication, you might be wondering what other drugs or foods you should avoid to safely take your new medication. Here is a guide to help you as you get started.

Foods and Drugs to Stay Away From While Taking Statins

Grapefruit: If you have been prescribed a statin drug to lower your cholesterol, eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice can be dangerous. Other citrus fruits, specifically tangelos and Seville oranges, can also be dangerous if combined with a statin drug. These fruits contain natural chemicals that block the enzyme necessary to break down certain statins in your body. This can result in higher levels of the drug in your body, increasing your chances for side effects, especially muscle problems. Talk to your doctor before consuming grapefruit, especially if you have been prescribed Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin) or Mevacor/Altoprev (lovastatin).

Other medications: Talk to your doctor if you take any other medications, especially any of the following:

  • Other medications for high cholesterol or triglycerides (bile acid sequestrants, fibric acid derivatives, nicotinic acid)
  • Heart or blood pressure medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal drugs
  • HIV medications

Drugs That Can Interact With Fibric Acid Derivatives

If you have been prescribed a fibrate drug to lower your cholesterol, tell your doctor if you also take other medications, especially any of the following:

  • Statins
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Cyclosporine
  • Blood thinners
  • Diabetes medications
  • Asthma medications
  • Seizure medications
  • Cancer medications

Drinks and Drugs to Avoid With Nicotinic Acid

Alcohol or hot beverages: If you have been prescribed a nicotinic acid medication to lower your cholesterol, drinking alcohol or hot beverages may increase your chances of side effects, especially flushing and itching. Consuming alcohol or hot drinks should be avoided around the time you take your dose of nicotinic acid.

Other medications: Drugs that may interact with nicotinic acid include:

  • Statins
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Blood thinners
  • Heart or blood pressure medications
  • Vitamins or nutritional supplements that may contain another form of niacin

Medications That Don’t Mix With Zetia

If your doctor has prescribed Zetia for you to lower your cholesterol, before you start taking it tell you doctor if you take any other medications to avoid potential drug interactions. Medications that can interact with Zetia include:

  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Fibric acid derivatives
  • Statins
  • Cyclosporine
  • Blood thinners

Bile Acid Sequestrants: A High Potential for Interactions

This class of cholesterol-lowering agents, also known as resins, has a greater potential to interact with other medications because of the binding properties of these drugs. This is a major limitation of using this class of drugs to lower cholesterol. These drugs can bind to other medications in the gastrointestinal tract which delays or reduces the absorption of the other medications.

Take other drugs at least one hour before or four to six hours after the bile acid sequestrants. Talk to your doctor about any other medications you may be taking before you start your new medication to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. Medications that may interact with bile acid sequestrants include the following:

  • Statins
  • Fibric acid derivatives
  • Zetia
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Blood thinners
  • Heart or blood pressure medications
  • Thyroid medications
  • Mycophenolate
  • Vitamins A, D, E, K and folic acid and other supplements
  • Steroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Seizure medications
  • Diuretics
  • Antibiotics
  • Diabetes medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy

Remember, you should always talk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking. If you take a medication that may interact with your newly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug, often it just requires additional monitoring by your doctor.

Clinical Trials News and Info

clinical trialsFind details about clinical trials for new drugs and treatments that may help you.

How to Prepare for Surgery

clinical trialsSurgery can be an intense physical and emotional experience. Get answers to your questions here.