Fibrates are taken to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Because fibrates do not reduce LDL cholesterol levels substantially, they are often taken in combination with statins or other LDL-lowering medications.
What are Fibrates?
Fibrates are compounds that stimulate the production of enzymes that break triglycerides into particles that are cleared from the body. They can lower triglyceride levels by as much as 50% and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol by as much as 30%. Fibrate use not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, it also lowers the risk of diabetes. The drugs help to reduce risk factors for metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Side Effects of Fibrates
The most common side effects are gastrointestinal, particularly nausea and vomiting. Fibrates also raise the risk of developing gallstones.
Other side effects are unique to specific fibrates: for example, gemfibrozil can interfere with the breakdown of certain drugs that prevent blood clotting, causing them to remain in the body longer and increasing the chance of hemorrhage. Taking a fibrate and a statin increases the risk of rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can damage the kidneys.
Taking a Fibrate
Most fibrates are taken twice a day, shortly before a meal. If you’re taking a fibrate, it’s important to report any side effects to your doctor to avoid long-term complications.
Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011
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