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Fibrates

Fibrates are medicines prescribed to help lower high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. Fibrates also may help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.

High triglycerides along with low HDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

How Fibrates Help

Lowering cholesterol and triglycerides can help protect you from heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Statins are thought to be the best drugs to use for people who need medicines to lower their cholesterol.

Some fibrates may be prescribed along with statins to help lower cholesterol. However, some studies show that using certain fibrates along with statins may not help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke more than using statins alone.

Fibrates may also be used to help lower very high triglycerides in people at risk for pancreatitis.

Fibrates are prescribed to adults.

How to Take Fibrates

Take your medicine as directed. It is generally taken 1 time per day. DO NOT stop taking your medicine without first talking with your health care provider.

The medicine comes in liquid-filled capsule or tablet form. DO NOT open capsules, chew, or crush tablets before taking.

Read the instructions on your medicine label. Some brands should be taken with food. Others may be taken with, or without food.

Store all of your medicines in a cool, dry place.

Follow a healthy diet while taking fibrates. This includes eating less fat in your diet. Other ways you can help your heart include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Quitting smoking

Know Your Risks

Before you start taking fibrates, tell your provider if you:

  • Are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Nursing mothers should not take this medicine.
  • Have allergies
  • Are taking other medicines
  • Plan to have surgery or dental work
  • Have diabetes

If you have liver, gallbladder, or kidney conditions, you should not take fibrates.

Tell your provider about all of your medicines, supplements, vitamins, and herbs. Certain medicines may interact with fibrates. Be sure to tell your provider before taking any new medicines.

Regular blood tests will help you and your provider:

  • See how well the medicine is working
  • Monitor for side effects, such as liver problems

Side Effects

Possible side effects may include:

  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you notice:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle pain or tenderness
  • Weakness
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Skin rash
  • Other new symptoms

Alternative Names

Antilipemic agent; Fenofibrate (Antara®, Fenoglide®, Lipofen®, Tricor®, and Triglide®); Gemfibrozil (Lopid®); Fenofibric acid (Trilipix®); Hyperlipidemia - fibrates; Hardening of the arteries - fibrates; Cholesterol - fibrates; Hypercholesterolemia - fibrates; Dyslipidemia - fibrates

References

American Heart Association website. Cholesterol medications. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Cholesterol-Medications_UCM_305632_Article.jsp#.Vzt-k_krK70. Updated April 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Genest J, Libby P. Lipoprotein disorders and cardiovascular disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2019:chap 48.

Jones PH, Brinto EA. Fibrates. In: Ballantyne CM, ed. Clinical Lipidology: A Companion to Braunwald's Heart Disease. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 25.

Stone NJ, Robinson J, Lichtenstein AH, et al. 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2889-2934. PMID: 24239923 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24239923.

US Food and Drug Administration website. FDA drug safety communication: review update of trilipix (fenofibric acid) and the ACCORD lipid trial. www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm278837.htm. Updated August 4, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Review Date 2/22/2018

Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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