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Lopid is prescribed primarily to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Heart specialists recognize that coronary artery disease is associated with certain risk factors, including high serum cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides and reduced levels of protective HDL cholesterol.

Diet, exercise and weight control are usually considered important first-line preventive approaches. When they are insufficient, drugs like Lopid may be important in reducing the risk of heart disease. It increases HDL cholesterol while lowering triglycerides and certain other negative blood fats.

A well-controlled study from Helsinki, Finland revealed that this medication appears to lower the risk of heart attacks by about one third.

Side Effects and Interactions of Lopid (gemfibrozil)

The most common side effects of this drug are digestive tract problems: heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and flatulence. Other possible adverse reactions include skin rash, itching, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, muscle or joint pain or unusual sore throat and fever. Notify your physician promptly of any symptoms.

Lopid can interact dangerously with cholesterol-lowering drugs like Mevacor, Pravachol or Zocor. Such a combination of cholesterol-lowering drugs could trigger destruction of muscle tissue, resulting in muscle pain, weakness and ultimately kidney damage.

If your doctor decides both drugs are necessary, close monitoring of kidney function is essential.

The herb goldenseal may raise cholesterol levels and should not be combined with cholesterol-lowering medications such as Lopid.

Special Precautions with Lopid (gemfibrozil)

Anyone with kidney or liver problems should probably not take Lopid. This medicine must also be used with great caution by anyone with gallstones or gallbladder disease, as it may precipitate or aggravate problems. Tests for liver function and blood sugar should be carried out periodically.

Women who are pregnant should also avoid it as animal studies have shown an increased risk of damage to the fetus.

Research on animals has also linked it to liver and testicular tumors, but only at relatively high doses. Whether there is a risk for humans remains to be determined.

Taking the Medicine

The manufacturer recommends that people take Lopid half an hour before breakfast and supper. If you feel dizzy or your vision becomes blurred, do not drive.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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