If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, the first step is to improve your diet and get regular exercise. If that doesn’t help, your doctor may prescribe medications to get your numbers into the normal range and keep them there. These medications are safe and effective, and if your doctor prescribes them it’s important to continue taking them as directed as they can reduce your risk of complications like a heart attack or stroke.
However, for some people, “first-line” medications are not ideal. This includes those who:
- Don’t respond to the drugs
- Have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol or high blood pressure that makes the drugs less effective
- Experience adverse side effects when taking the drugs
Whatever the reason that standard medications are not effective, it’s important to know that there are alternatives and to discuss them with your doctor.
How to Lower Your Cholesterol Without Statins
Statins are a type of drug often prescribed to help people lower their cholesterol. If statins aren’t a good choice for you, your doctor may prescribe a different type of medication. These alternatives include:
- Bile acid-binding resins that stick to cholesterol-laden bile acids in the digestive tract to lower your “bad” cholesterol level
- Fibrates that reduce a certain kind of bad fat in the blood called triglycerides and raise your “good” cholesterol
- Omega-3s, which are also found in fatty fish and can lower your triglyceride level
- Niacin, which is a B vitamin that can lower your bad cholesterol
- PCSK9 inhibitors that help your body remove cholesterol from the blood
Other statin alternatives are being developed as well.
How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without the Standard Medications
For people who don’t respond well to the standard blood pressure medications, including thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers, there are a number of alternative drugs that may be effective. They include:
- Alpha blockers, which reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels and reduce the action of natural chemicals that narrow blood vessels
- Beta blockers that slow the heart and make it beat less forcefully
- Alpha-beta blockers, which affect nerve impulses and also slow the beating of the heart
- Vasodilators that prevent the muscles in artery walls from tightening and narrowing the vessels
- Aldosterone antagonists that cause the body to retain less salt and fluid
- Renin inhibitors, which slow the production of an enzyme involved in the increasing of blood pressure
- Central-acting agents that keep your brain from telling your nervous system to narrow blood vessels and increase your heart rate
Learn More About Primary Care at Baptist Health
Baptist Health Primary Care providers offer comprehensive healthcare services to you and your family. If you are new to Baptist Health, our primary care practice can serve as an entry point into the Baptist Health system, giving you access to expert physicians, some of the most advanced technologies and many convenient locations.