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5 Drugs That Can Lower Cholesterol: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Heart

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5 Drugs That Can Lower Cholesterol

5 Drugs That Can Lower Cholesterol: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Heart

Lowering your LDL can cut your risk of heart attack and stroke

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

A few important ones include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming roughly the same number of lives each year as cancer, lower respiratory diseases, and accidents combined.

Older adults bear the brunt of this burden:

An estimated 80 percent of deaths from the disease occur in adults 65 and older. The good news, however, is that a lot can be done to prevent cardiovascular disease — a catchall term for several conditions related to the heart and blood vessels (think heart attack, stroke, and heart failure).

A healthy lifestyle can go a long way. So can controlling risk factors for the disease, a big one being high cholesterol.


What is cholesterol?


First, it’s important to know that cholesterol is not inherently bad. Our bodies produce it in the liver to help build cells and make hormones. You can also get cholesterol from your diet, especially from foods high in saturated fat, such as cheeses and fatty meats.

Too much of it, though, can lead to the buildup of plaque along the walls of the blood vessels, causing them to narrow and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.

Getting plenty of exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet can help keep your cholesterol numbers in check. And if your cholesterol is high, medications can help to bring it down.

However, research shows that a significant share of people who could benefit from cholesterol-lowering drugs aren’t taking them, and the reasons for opting out range from misinformation to concerns about safety and cost.

Still, experts say, the science stands. Lynne T. Braun, a nurse practitioner affiliated with the Rush Heart Center for Women in Chicago, says decades of research have shown that when cholesterol is elevated — in particular LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, sometimes called “bad cholesterol” — so is the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Conversely, when LDL cholesterol is reduced through lifestyle measures and medication, the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths decreases,” Braun notes. There is a strong relationship: Lower cholesterol equals fewer heart attacks and strokes.


Know your numbers


High cholesterol doesn’t come with symptoms, so the only way to know you have it is with a routine blood test. Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though some may need it tested more frequently.

When you get your blood test report, you’ll see four numbers:

  1. Total cholesterol is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
  2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol — also known as “good cholesterol” — helps take the “bad cholesterol” out of your body, so higher numbers are better.
  3. Triglycerides are a form of fat in the blood that is used as an energy source to “fuel” your body. Too much, however, can cause health problems.
  4. LDL cholesterol — the “bad cholesterol” — is the culprit for clogging your arteries.

Prevention of cardiovascular disease focuses on LDL cholesterol and ways to lower it. If your LDL level is elevated, your healthcare provider will map out a treatment plan based on your risk of having cardiovascular disease.

For some patients with high cholesterol, it’s reasonable to have a two- to three-month trial to see if certain lifestyle modifications — diet, weight loss, and exercise, for example — lower LDL levels.

If your risk of cardiovascular disease is higher, however, your provider may want to start you on medication right away, along with lifestyle changes.


What medications are available?


Statins are the first-line treatment:
While there are several options available, a class of drugs known as statins is considered the first-line treatment for high LDL. Statins, like many medications, can have side effects, but years of research have shown their benefits and safety.

“Numerous studies have found that lowering cholesterol with a statin reduces the chance of having a heart attack or stroke,” says Connie Newman, M.D., an endocrinologist and adjunct professor in the Department of Medicine at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

  • Effectiveness: Statins can lower cholesterol by 20 to 60 percent, depending on the particular statin and the dose.
  • Examples: Atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altoprev or Mevacor), pitavastatin (Livalo or Zypitamag), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor or Ezallor Sprinkle) and simvastatin (Zocor or FloLipid)
  • How they work: Statins slow down the body’s production of cholesterol.
  • Possible side effects: Muscle soreness and achy joints can occur. There’s also a very low risk that some patients develop diabetes.
  • What else to know: Statins have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

If statins don’t help you get to your cholesterol goal, your doctor may increase the dose or add a second medicine.

Other cholesterol-lowering drugs available:


Bile acid sequestrants?


Effectiveness
: Can lower LDL cholesterol by 15 to 20 percent.

Examples: Cholestyramine colestipol powder (Colestid) and colesevelam pill (Welchol)

How they work: These drugs lower cholesterol by binding to it in the bile from the liver and preventing absorption.

Possible side effects: Constipation and an increase in triglycerides in some patients. These drugs may interfere with the absorption of other medications if taken at the same time.

What else to know: They can improve HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar levels) in patients with diabetes.

Cholesterol absorption inhibitors?


Effectiveness
: Can lower LDL by 20 to 25 percent.

Examples: Ezetimibe (Zetia)

How they work: These medicines prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from the intestine.

Possible side effects: Side effects are rare.

What else to know: These medicines are generally well tolerated.

PCSK9 inhibitors

Effectiveness: Can lower LDL by 45 to 60 percent.

Examples: Alirocumab (Praluent) and evolocumab (Repatha)

How they work: These medicines increase the removal of cholesterol from the body through the liver.

Possible side effects: Some people may have mild injection-site reactions.

What else to know: These medications are given by injection every two or four weeks and are mostly for patients at higher risk who did not tolerate other medications or did not reach their LDL goal. They are more expensive than other options and may require pre-authorization from your provider.

 ACL inhibitors

How ACL inhibitors work: ACL inhibitors prevent the body from making cholesterol.

Possible side effects: These medicines are generally well tolerated.

What else to know: This medication, approved in 2020, can be costly and may require pre-authorization from your provider.

A few others to note: Two newer cholesterol-lowering medications available are inclisiran (Leqvio), which is injected under the skin and taken every six months, and evolocumab (Evkeeza), given monthly by IV infusion.

Both are very potent and can lower LDL levels by 50 percent. However, they are expensive and only indicated for those who are at very high risk and not at their LDL goal.


What About Niacin?

Niacin is an older cholesterol-lowering medication that is used less often, in part due to its side effects, like headache and a warm, flushing feeling.

Curious about the “no-flush” or “flush-free” niacin supplements stocked on drugstore shelves?

Not so fast. While these pills won’t give you a flush, they won’t lower your LDL levels. Plus, dietary supplements are not regulated like other medications, meaning their ingredients, formulations, and effects, some of which can be serious, vary widely.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about the best way to lower your cholesterol and about any supplements you are taking. Also in the arsenal are drugs to lower triglycerides, including fibric acids, or fibrates, along with omega-3 fatty acids.

Questions to ask your doctor

When you meet with your doctor to discuss your cholesterol-lowering strategy, be sure to ask:

  • What are my cardiovascular risk factors?
  • What is my goal for LDL cholesterol?
  • What lifestyle changes can help?
  • Will lifestyle changes alone bring me to my LDL goal?
  • If I need medication for my cholesterol, what are the choices?
  • (And be sure that all your drug allergies and past problems with medications are listed in your medical chart.)
  • What do I need to know about the medication I will be taking?
  • How often do I take it? Should I take it with food?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • According to Eliot Brinton, M.D., an endocrinologist in Salt Lake City who’s affiliated with Intermountain Medical Center, “Older adults tend to be more sensitive than young adults to side effects of any medication, including those for cholesterol lowering.
  • If you experience side effects, your doctor may adjust your dose or switch you to a different medication, Brinton notes.
  • Is any monitoring needed?
  • When should I have follow-up blood tests to see my LDL improvement?
  • What should I do if I think I am having a side effect?

Finally, be sure to ask your provider for a copy of your lab tests to take home. Your doctor may also give you a chart to track your numbers in the future.


 

Source: AARP

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer: A Pioneering Voice in Sex Therapy Passes Away at 96

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Dr. Ruth Westheimer: A Pioneering Voice in Sex Therapy Passes Away at 96

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a pioneering figure in the field of sex therapy, has passed away at the age of 96. Known for her diminutive stature and boundless energy, Dr. Ruth revolutionized the way Americans talked about sex and intimacy, making significant strides in breaking down the taboos surrounding these topics.

Her contributions to sex education and therapy have left an indelible mark on society, influencing generations and fostering open, healthy discussions about human sexuality.

Early Life and Education

A Remarkable Journey Begins

Ruth Westheimer, born Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1928, in Frankfurt, Germany, had a childhood marked by adversity. As a Jewish girl during the rise of the Nazi regime, she was sent to Switzerland for her safety, while her parents tragically perished in the Holocaust.

Despite these early hardships, she demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination.

Academic Pursuits and Emigration

In 1950, Ruth emigrated to the United States, where she pursued higher education with vigor. She earned her Master’s degree in Sociology from The New School and later received her Doctorate of Education from Columbia University. Her academic journey laid the foundation for her groundbreaking work in sex therapy.

Career and Contributions

Breaking New Ground in Sex Therapy

Dr. Ruth began her career as a research assistant at Planned Parenthood, where she became deeply interested in human sexuality. She later trained as a sex therapist under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

This experience ignited her passion for sex education and led to the development of her unique approach to therapy.

Media Presence and Influence

In 1980, Dr. Ruth’s career took a significant turn when she launched her radio show, “Sexually Speaking.” The show quickly gained popularity for its frank and open discussions about sex, a subject that was often considered taboo.

Her approachable and non-judgmental style made her a beloved figure, and she soon expanded her reach to television, books, and public speaking engagements.

Legacy and Impact

Changing Conversations About Sex

Dr. Ruth’s impact on society extends far beyond her media presence. She played a crucial role in normalizing conversations about sex, making it easier for people to seek help and information.

Her work emphasized the importance of communication, consent, and mutual respect in relationships.

Awards and Recognitions

Dr. Ruth received numerous awards and accolades throughout her career for her contributions to sex education and therapy. She was honored with the Medal of the City of New York, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, among other distinctions.

Personal Life and Philosophy

A Life Full of Love and Resilience

Dr. Ruth’s personal life was as vibrant and dynamic as her professional career. She was married three times and had two children. Her personal experiences, including the loss and love she experienced, deeply influenced her compassionate approach to therapy.

Philosophy on Sexuality and Relationships

Dr. Ruth’s philosophy on sexuality was grounded in the belief that sex is a natural and important part of life. She advocated for comprehensive sex education, emphasizing the need for people to understand their bodies and desires to form healthy, fulfilling relationships.

Final Years and Legacy

Continued Advocacy and Education

Even in her later years, Dr. Ruth remained active in advocating for sex education and healthy relationships. She continued writing, speaking, and educating, reaching new generations through modern media platforms.

A Lasting Legacy

Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s legacy includes empowerment, education, and compassion. Her pioneering work in sex therapy has left an enduring impact on society, encouraging open and healthy discussions about sex and relationships.

Conclusion

Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s life was a testament to resilience, passion, and dedication. From her early struggles during the Holocaust to her groundbreaking work in sex therapy, she continually broke barriers and changed lives.

Her legacy will continue to inspire and educate future generations, fostering a more open and understanding society when it comes to matters of sex and intimacy.

FAQs

1. What was Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s most significant contribution to sex therapy?

Dr. Ruth’s most significant contribution was her ability to normalize conversations about sex, making it easier for people to seek help and information. Her media presence and approachable style played a crucial role in breaking down taboos surrounding sex and intimacy.

2. How did Dr. Ruth’s early life experiences influence her career?

Dr. Ruth’s early life experiences, including surviving the Holocaust and losing her parents, instilled in her a deep sense of resilience and compassion. These experiences influenced her empathetic approach to sex therapy and her dedication to helping others.

3. What awards and recognitions did Dr. Ruth receive during her career?

Dr. Ruth received numerous awards, including the Medal of the City of New York, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and induction into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame. These honors reflect her significant contributions to sex education and therapy.

4. What was Dr. Ruth’s philosophy on sex and relationships?

Dr. Ruth believed that sex is a natural and important part of life. She advocated for comprehensive sex education, emphasizing the need for individuals to understand their bodies and desires to form healthy, fulfilling relationships.

5. How did Dr. Ruth continue her advocacy in her later years?

In her later years, Dr. Ruth remained active in advocating for sex education and healthy relationships. She continued to write, speak, and educate, reaching new generations through modern media platforms and maintaining her influence as a leading voice in sex therapy.

 


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Two Potential Measles Exposure Locations Announced After Confirmation in Macomb County Child

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Two Potential Measles Exposure Locations Announced

Two Potential Measles Exposure Locations Announced After Confirmation in Macomb County Child

Macomb County health officials have confirmed a case of measles in a child, raising concerns about potential exposure in the community.
The child, whose vaccination status has not been disclosed, visited two public locations before being diagnosed. The health department has issued an alert for anyone who may have been in these areas during specific times.

Understanding Measles: Symptoms and Transmission

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects children but can also impact adults. It spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The virus can remain active on surfaces and in the air for up to two hours, making it easy to contract in public spaces.

Symptoms of Measles

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Koplik spots (tiny white spots inside the mouth)
  • Rash that usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body

Transmission and Prevention

The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is highly effective and is typically administered in two doses during childhood.

Those who are unvaccinated or have not completed their vaccination schedule are at higher risk of contracting the virus.

Potential Exposure Locations in Macomb County

Location 1: Grocery Store

Health officials have identified a grocery store in Macomb County as one of the potential exposure sites. The child visited this location on [specific date] between [specific time].

Individuals who were present at the store during this time may have been exposed to the virus.

Location 2: Public Park

The second location identified is a popular public park in the county. The child was at the park on [specific date] between [specific time]. Visitors to the park during this timeframe are advised to monitor for symptoms and seek medical advice if necessary.

Response from Health Officials

Immediate Actions Taken

Upon confirmation of the measles case, the Macomb County Health Department initiated a thorough investigation to identify potential exposure sites and notify the public.

They have been working closely with the affected locations to ensure proper sanitation and to inform individuals who may have been exposed.

Public Health Advisory

Health officials have urged anyone who may have been at the identified locations during the specified times to check their vaccination status and watch for symptoms.

Those who develop symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately and inform them of the potential exposure.

Importance of Vaccination

MMR Vaccine

The MMR vaccine is the most effective way to prevent measles. It not only protects individuals but also helps achieve herd immunity, reducing the spread of the virus within the community.

Vaccine Schedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children receive the first dose of the MMR vaccine at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age.

Adults who are unsure of their vaccination status should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if they need a booster shot.

Recognizing Measles Outbreaks

Epidemiological Surveillance

Continuous monitoring and reporting of measles cases are crucial in preventing outbreaks. Health departments rely on prompt reporting from healthcare providers and laboratories to track and contain the spread of the virus.

Community Awareness

Public awareness campaigns play a significant role in educating the community about the importance of vaccination and recognizing the symptoms of measles.

These efforts help ensure timely medical intervention and reduce the risk of further transmission.

Impact of Measles on Public Health

Complications and Risks

Measles can lead to severe health complications, especially in young children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals. Complications include pneumonia, encephalitis, and death in severe cases.

Healthcare Burden

Outbreaks of measles place a significant burden on healthcare systems. Resources are diverted to manage and contain the virus, impacting the availability of care for other medical conditions.

Conclusion

The confirmed case of measles in Macomb County underscores the importance of vaccination and public awareness. Health officials are taking necessary steps to identify and notify those who may have been exposed.

The community is urged to remain vigilant, check their vaccination status, and seek medical advice if they develop symptoms.

FAQs

1. What should I do if I was at one of the identified locations during the exposure times?

If you were at one of the identified locations during the exposure times, monitor yourself for symptoms of measles for the next 21 days. If you develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately and inform them of your potential exposure.

2. How can I confirm my vaccination status?

You can confirm your vaccination status by checking your medical records or contacting your healthcare provider. If you do not have documentation, you may need a blood test to determine your immunity or receive a booster shot.

3. What should I do if I have not been vaccinated against measles?

If you have not been vaccinated against measles, it is important to get the MMR vaccine as soon as possible. Contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment.

4. Are there any side effects of the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is generally safe. Some individuals may experience mild side effects, such as fever, mild rash, or swelling at the injection site. Serious side effects are rare.

5. Can adults get measles?

Yes, adults can get measles if they have not been vaccinated or have not developed immunity from a previous infection. Adults need to check their vaccination status and get vaccinated if necessary.

 


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Understanding the Surge: Why More People Are Getting COVID Again

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More People Are Getting COVID Again

Understanding the Surge: Why More People Are Getting COVID Again

In recent times, the resurgence of COVID-19 has become increasingly noticeable. The number of cases has been climbing steadily, prompting concerns among health officials and the public alike. This article delves into the reasons behind this resurgence, the impact of new variants, and what individuals can do to protect themselves and others.

What is Driving the Increase in COVID-19 Cases?

The resurgence of COVID-19 can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the emergence of new variants, such as Delta and Omicron, has contributed to increased transmissibility. These variants spread more easily among populations, leading to a higher number of infections. Additionally, pandemic fatigue and relaxed public health measures have also played a role. As people resume normal activities and travel, the virus finds new opportunities to spread.

Impact of Variants on Transmission Rates

Variants like Delta and Omicron have shown higher transmission rates compared to earlier strains. This means that an infected person is more likely to spread the virus to others, leading to faster and wider outbreaks. The Delta variant, in particular, has been dominant in many regions and has contributed significantly to the recent surge in cases worldwide.

Vaccination and Its Role in Mitigating the Spread

Vaccination remains the most effective tool in combating COVID-19. Vaccines have been shown to reduce the severity of illness and lower the risk of hospitalization and death. However, breakthrough infections can still occur, especially with new variants. Booster doses are recommended to enhance immunity and provide additional protection against variants.

Public Health Measures to Limit Transmission

Public health measures such as wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and maintaining physical distance continue to be crucial. These measures help reduce the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable populations, including those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised.

The Importance of Testing and Early Detection

Testing remains essential for early detection and containment of COVID-19 outbreaks. Regular testing helps identify cases promptly, allowing for timely isolation and contact tracing efforts. This is particularly important in settings with high transmission rates or where new variants are circulating.

Conclusion

As COVID-19 continues to evolve, vigilance and proactive measures are key to mitigating its impact. Staying informed, following public health guidelines, and getting vaccinated are vital steps individuals can take to protect themselves and others. By working together, we can reduce transmission rates and ultimately bring an end to the pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell.

2. How effective are COVID-19 vaccines against new variants?

COVID-19 vaccines have shown effectiveness against new variants, though the level of protection may vary. Booster doses are recommended to enhance immunity.

3. Can you get COVID-19 more than once?

Reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, though less common. Vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness and reinfection.

4. What should I do if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, monitor your symptoms closely, get tested, and follow quarantine guidelines as recommended by health authorities.

5. How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

You can protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated, wearing masks in crowded or indoor settings, practicing good hand hygiene, and staying informed about the latest public health guidance.


References:

It’s Not Your Imagination, More People Are Getting COVID Again

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