Q. My cholesterol is high but I cannot tolerate statin-type drugs. My doctor has prescribed Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor. They all make my muscles and joints hurt. Now he wants to prescribe Vytorin.
I am reluctant to try yet another cholesterol lowering drug, especially since I have heard bad things about this medicine. What else can I take to get my cholesterol under control?
A. Since you have already reacted badly to Zocor (simvastatin), it is unlikely that Vytorin will solve the problem. It contains both simvastatin and ezetimibe (Zetia). There is a controversy about whether Vytorin is associated with an increased risk of cancer (New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 25, 2008). An editorial in this journal concluded: “Physicians and patients are unfortunately left for now with uncertainty about the efficacy and safety of the drug.”
There are several other ways to lower cholesterol. Psyllium fiber has a modest lipid-lowering effect. Niacin may also be beneficial when taken under medical supervision. Other non-statin drugs include Colestid, Tricor, or WelChol. Fish oil can reduce both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol and Heart Health with more information about these medications so you can discuss them with your doctor.