5 Important Questions About Your Cholesterol Medicine

Don't forget to ask your doctor these crucial questions about your prescription.

Dietary changes, exercise and weight loss can go a long way toward improving your cholesterol. But your doctor may prescribe medication, too—especially if you're at high risk for heart disease. Ask these questions to make sure you use your cholesterol meds safely.

What type of drug is it? Different types of cholesterol medication work in different ways. Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe an individual medication or a combination of drugs.

What are the possible side effects? These might include flushed skin, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, upset stomach, muscle pain, nausea or constipation. Let you doctor know if you experience any side effects—some can be serious.

Could this drug interact with other medications or supplements? Some heart drugs, for example, shouldn't be taken with certain cholesterol meds. You also shouldn't take some herbal supplements with cholesterol drugs.

Should I avoid any foods? Grapefruit, for example, interacts with some cholesterol-lowering statins. Other cholesterol medications can interfere with your body's ability absorb calcium, so your doctor may prescribe a calcium supplement.

Do I need follow-up tests? Ask your doctor when to have your cholesterol rechecked to see how well the medication is working. You may also need other periodic blood tests to monitor liver function.

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