Antihyperlipidemics are medications used to treat clients with increased blood levels of lipids, like cholesterol, by decreasing the levels of low- density lipoproteins or LDLs, which is sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol; and to an extent, antihyperlipidemics can also decrease blood triglycerides.
In addition, they’re indicated to treat clients with coronary artery disease and prevent myocardial infarction.
Antihyperlipidemics include different classes of medications, among which some of the most commonly used are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also called statins.
Statins include simvastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, lovastatin, and pravastatin, which are administered orally.
Once absorbed into the bloodstream, statins travel to the liver, where they inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. As a result, there’s a decrease in cholesterol synthesis. This also causes hepatic cells to increase the number of LDL receptors on their surface.
This facilitates the uptake of cholesterol-rich LDLs, and VLDLs to a smaller degree, which provides a moderate decrease in triglyceride level. So ultimately, statins help lower overall lipid levels.
Luckily, statins are very well tolerated. The most common side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea or constipation, flatulence, heartburn, and nausea.
Especially with rosuvastatin, clients can develop a skin rash, and may experience headache and dizziness. Other side effects include blurred vision, cataracts, fatigue, and insomnia.