Risks of Not Taking Your Cholesterol Medication

Find out what happens if you miss a dose and when is the best time to take cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Cholesterol, unlike blood pressure, will not change with one missed dose. If you miss one dose of your cholesterol-lowering medication you won’t feel any differently, as you would if you missed a dose of an antidepressant. However, it is important to remember to take your medication every day. One missed dose can lead to several missed doses, and this could be dangerous when trying to prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease that can be caused by high cholesterol.

If you miss a dose of your cholesterol-lowering medication, the rule of thumb is to take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your medication at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take a double dose of your medication to make up for your missed dose.

What If I Miss Many Doses?

There are several risks of repeatedly missing doses or forgetting to take your cholesterol-lowering medication. When your cholesterol-lowering drugs are not taken correctly, your cholesterol can become high again. As we now know, high cholesterol increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, someone dies from cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds. So remember to take your cholesterol medication every day and stick to your healthy lifestyle to lower your cholesterol and your risk for heart disease.

When Is the Best Time to Take My Medication?

The best time to take your medication depends on which medication you have been prescribed and how your doctor has instructed you to take it. Here are some of the general suggestions for when to take your cholesterol-lowering medication, but always follow your doctor’s recommendations first.

When to Take a Statin

Most of the statins should be taken once daily in the evening or at bedtime, because the body produces the most cholesterol overnight and this allows the statin to work best. However, there are a few statins that can be taken anytime, including Lipitor, Crestor, Pravachol, and Livalo. Try to take these at the same time each day.

When to Take a Fibrate

When to take your fibrate depends on which one your doctor has prescribed. Lopid is usually taken twice daily, 30 minutes before the morning and evening meals. If you have been prescribed a fenofibrate drug, the general recommendations for when to take it will depend on which one your doctor has prescribed. Some fenofibrates should be taken with meals to help your body absorb the drug better. Other fenofibrates may be taken without regard to food. Here is a general guide:

  • Antara: once daily without regard to meals
  • Fenoglide: once daily with food
  • Fibricor: once daily without regard to meals
  • Lofibra: once daily with meals
  • Lipofen: once daily with meals
  • Tricor: once daily without regard to meals
  • Triglide: once daily with or without food
  • Trilipix: once daily without regard to food

When to Take Niacin

Niacin is sometimes taken at bedtime with a low-fat snack. Some forms of niacin need to be taken more often. Like the fibrates, when to take your dose of niacin depends on which product your doctor has prescribed or instructed you to take. Remember, it is only safe to take over-the-counter niacin products for cholesterol under the supervision of your doctor. Regardless of which formulation you have been prescribed, taking niacin with a meal or snack instead of an empty stomach usually helps to lessen side effects, such as flushing and itching. Avoiding drinking alcohol or hot beverages around the time you take niacin will also help lessen these side effects.

When to Take Zetia

Zetia is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Zetia is sometimes prescribed with other cholesterol-lowering medications, so here a few things to remember: · If taken with a statin or fenofibrate, Zetia may be taken at the same time as the statin or fenofibrate, according to recommendations for the statin or fenofibrate. · If taken with a bile acid sequestrant, Zetia should be taken two hours before or four hours after the bile acid sequestrant.

When to Take a Bile Acid Sequestrant

When used to treat high cholesterol, bile acid sequestrants are often prescribed in combination with other cholesterol-lowering medications. As a result of the binding nature of these drugs to eliminate cholesterol, they can also bind to other drugs. It is important to talk to your doctor about the best way to take these drugs, but a good rule of thumb is usually to take other drugs at least one hour before or four hours after a bile acid sequestrant. The best time to take your bile acid sequestrant will depend on which drug you have been prescribed and how long you have been taking it. Here is a quick guide to get you started on how and when to take your bile acid sequestrant: Welchol: once or twice a day with meals and liquid Questran, Questran Lite, Prevalite: once or twice a day at mealtime Colestid: once or twice a day with meals and liquid

When to Take Combination Therapy

If you take more than one cholesterol-lowering medication, check with your doctor for the best way to take them. If you have been prescribed a combination medication, here is a guide for when they are recommended to be taken:

  • Vytorin: once a day in the evening with or without food. If taken with a bile acid sequestrant, Vytorin should be taken at least two hours before or at least four hours after the bile acid sequestrant.
  • Simcor: once a day at bedtime with a low-fat snack
  • Advicor: once a day at bedtime with a low-fat snack

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