Anti Hyperlipidemic Drugs

Anti Hyperlipidemic Drugs

Anti Hyperlipidemic Drugs

Anti Hyperlipidemic Drugs

These are drugs that lower the levels of lipids and lipoproteins in blood.

The hypolipidaemic drugs have attracted considerable attention because of their potential to prevent cardiovascular disease by retarding the accelerated atherosclerosis in hyperlipidaemic individuals.


1. HMGCoA reductase inhibitors (Statins): Lovastatin, Simvastatin, Pravastatin, Atorvastatin, Rosuvastatin, Pitavastatin

2. Bile acid sequestrants (Resins): Cholestyramine, Colestipol

3. Lipoprotein lipase activators (PPARα activators, Fibrates): Clofibrate, Gemfibrozil, Bezafibrate, Fenofibrate.

4. Lipolysis and triglyceride synthesis inhibitor: Nicotinic acid.

5. Sterol absorption inhibitor: Ezetimibe.


Introduced in the 1980s, these classes of compounds are the most efficacious and best-tolerated hypolipidaemic drugs. 

They competitively inhibit conversion of HMGCoto mevalonate by the enzyme HMGCoA reductase. 

Therapeutic doses reduce CH synthesis by 20–50%. 

This results in compensatory increase in LDL receptor expression on liver cells  increased receptor-mediated uptake and catabolism of IDL and LDL. 

Over longterinduction of HMGCoA reductase tends to increase CH synthesis, but a steadystate is finally attained with a dosedependent lowering of LDLCH levels.

Different statins differ in their potency and maximal efficacy in reducing LDLCH.

The daily dose for lowering LDLCH by 30–35% is lovastatin 40 mg, pravastatin 40mg, simvastatin20 mg, atorvastatin 10 mg, rosuvastatin 5 mg and pitavastatin 2mg.

Moreover, at their maximum recommended doses simvastatin (80 mg) causes 45–50% reduction, while atorvastatin (80 mg) and rosuvastatin (40 mg) can reduce LDL-CH by upto 55%.

The ceiling effect of lovastatin and pravastatin is 3040% LDL-CH reduction.

All statins produce peak LDLCH lowering after 1–2 weeks therapy.

Hepatic synthesis of VLDL is concurrently reduced and its removal from plasma is enhanced.

Because HMGCoA reductase activity is maximum at midnight, all statins are administered at bedtime to obtain maximum effectiveness.

However, this is not necessary for atorvastatin and rosuvastatin, which have long plasma t½.

All statins, except rosuvastatin are metabolized primarily by CYP3A4.

Inhibitors and inducers of this isoenzyme respectively increase and decrease statin blood levels.


It is the first clinically used statin; is lipophilic and given orally in the precursor lactone form.

Absorption is incomplete and first pass metabolism is extensive.

Metabolites are excreted mainly in bile. The t½ is short (1–4 hours).


It is twice as potent as lovastatin; also more efficacious.

A greater rise in HDLCH (when low) has been noted with simvastatin than lovastatin or pravastatin.

Like lovastatin, it is lipophilic and given in the lactone precursor form.

Oral absorption is better and first pass metabolism extensive; t½ is 2–3 hr.


This newer and most popular statin is more potent and appears to have the highest LDLCH lowering efficacy at maximal daily dose of 80 mg.

At this dose a greater reduction in TGs is noted if the same was raised at baseline.

Atorvastatin has a much longer plasma t½ of 18– 24 hr than other statins, and has additional antioxidant property.

Side Effect

side effects not differing from placebo.

Notable side effects are: Gastrointestinal complaints and headache are usually  mild.

Rashes and sleep disturbances are uncommon.

Rise  in  serum transaminase can occur, but  liver damage is rare.

Monitoring of liver function is recommended.


Statins are the first choice drugs for primary hyperlipidaemias with raised LDL and total CH levels, with or  without raised  TG levels, as  well as  for secondary (diabetes, nephrotic syndrome) hypercholesterolemia.


Cholestyramine and Colestipol:

These are basic ion exchange resins supplied in the chloride form.

They are neither digested nor absorbed in the gut: bind bile acids in the intestine interrupting their enterohepatic circulation.

Faecal excretion of bile salts and CH (which is absorbed with the help of bile salts) is increased.

This indirectly leads to enhanced hepatic metabolism of CH to bile acids.

More LDL receptors are expressed on liver cells: clearance of plasma IDL, LDL and indirectly that of VLDL is increased.

Resins have been shown to retard atherosclerosis, but are not popular clinically because they are unpalatable, inconvenient, have to be taken in large doses, cause flatulence and other g.i. symptoms, interfere with absorption of many drugs and have poor patient acceptability.


 The  fibrates  (isobutyric  acid derivatives)  primarily activate lipoprotein lipase which is a key enzyme in the degradation of VLDL resulting in lowering of circulating TGs.

This effect is exerted through peroxisome proliferatoractivated receptor α (PPARα) which is a gene transcription-regulating receptor expressed in anfatty acid oxidation.

PPARα may also mediate enhanced LDL receptor expression in liver seen particularly with second-generation fibrates like bezafibrate, fenofibrate. Fibrates decrease hepatiTG synthesias well.

A peripheral effect reducing circulating free fatty acids has also been shown.


This fibric acid derivative effectively lowers plasma TG level by enhancing breakdown and suppressing hepatic synthesis of TGs. Besides high efficacy in type III hyperlipoproteinemia, gemfibrozil has shown action in subjects with raised blood CH in addition.

In the Helsinki Heart Studymen without known CAD treated with gemfibrozil had a 34% reduction in fatal and nonfatal MI, though overall mortality was not affected.

That these benefits extend to secondary prevention of coronary events in men with existing CAD and low HDLCH, has been demonstrated in another trial.

Additional actions to decrease the level of clotting factor VIIphospholipid complex and promotion of fibrinolysis have been observed, which may contribute to the antiatherosclerotic effect.


Gemfibrozil is completely absorbed orally, metabolized by glucuronidation and undergoes some enterohepatic circulation. It is excreted in urine; elimination t½ is 1–2 hr.

Adverse effects: Common side effects are epigastric distress, loose motions. Skin rashes, body ache, eosinophilia, impotence, headache and blurred vision have been reported. Myopathy is uncommon.

Gemfibrozil + statin increases risk of myopathy. Incidence of gallstone is not increased as was seen with clofibrate.

It is contraindicated during pregnancy.


Nicotinic Acid (Niacin): It is a B group vitamin which in much higher doses reduces plasma lipids. This action is unrelated to its vitamin activitdecrease rapidly, followed by a modest fall in LDLCH and total CH. A2050% reduction in plasma TGs and 1525% reduction in CH levels has been recorded.

Nicotinic acid is the most effective drug to raise HDL-CH, probably by decreasing rate of HDL destruction; a 20–35% increase is generally obtained.

Relatively lower dose suffices to raise  HDLCH.

It also  reduces  lipoprotein Lp (a),  which is considered more atherogenic.

Nicotinic acid reduces production of VLDL in liver by inhibiting TG synthesis.

Indirectly the VLDL degradation products IDL and LDL are also reduced.

No direct effect on CH and bile acid metabolism has been found.

It inhibits intracellular lipolysis in adipose tissue and increases the activity of lipoprotein lipase that clears TGs.

Adverse effects:

The large doses needed for hypolipidaemic action are poorly tolerated.

Only about half of the patients can take the full doses.

Nicotinic acid is a cutaneous vasodilator: marked flushing, heat and itching (especially in the blush area) occur after every dose.

This is associated with release of PGD2 in the skin, and can be minimized by starting with a low dose taken with meals and gradually increasing as tolerance develops.

Dyspepsia is very common; vomiting and diarrhoea occur when full doses are given.

Peptic ulcer may be activated.

Dryness and hyperpigmentation of skin can be troublesome.

Other longterm effects are: Liver dysfunction and jaundice.

Serious liver damage is the most important risk.

Hyperglycemia, precipitation of diabetes (should not be used in diabetics).

It is contraindicated during pregnancy and in children.



Iis a novel drug that acts by inhibiting intestinal absorption of cholesterol and phytosterols. 

It interferes with a specific CH transport protein NPC1L1 in the  intestinal mucosa  and reduces absorption of both dietary and biliary CH.

There is compensatory increase in hepatic CH synthesis, but LDLCH level is lowered by 15–20%. 

The enhanced CH synthesis can be blocked by statins, and the two drugs have synergistic LDLCH lowering effect.

Due to very poor aqueous solubility, ezetimibe is not absorbed as such. 

A fraction is absorbed after getting conjugated with glucuronic acid in the intestinal mucosa. 

This is secreted in bile and undergoes enterohepatic circulation to be mainly excreted in faeces.

A plasma t½ of 22 hours has been calculated.

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