There are currently six different classes of drugs available for lowering cholesterol levels. There are currently seven HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) approved for lowering cholesterol levels and they are the first line drugs for treating lipid disorders and can lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 60%. Statins also are effective in reducing triglyceride levels in patients with hypertriglyceridemia. Statins lower LDL levels by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase activity leading to decreases in hepatic cholesterol content resulting in an up-regulation of hepatic LDL receptors, which increases the clearance of LDL. The major side effects are muscle complications and an increased risk of diabetes. The different statins have varying drug interactions. Ezetimibe lowers LDL cholesterol levels by approximately 20% by inhibiting cholesterol absorption by the intestines leading to the decreased delivery of cholesterol to the liver, a decrease in hepatic cholesterol content, and an up-regulation of hepatic LDL receptors. Ezetimibe is very useful as add on therapy when statin therapy is not sufficient or in statin intolerant patients.

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