Diet and drug therapy are two of the principal approaches to lipid management. The aim of both is to reduce low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to goal levels established by the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel in its second report, based on a patient's short-term risk of a coronary event. In prescribing diet therapy, it is important to determine patients' willingness to initiate and adhere to dietary modifications, their skill at reading nutritional labels, adapting recipes, and ordering 'heart-healthy' foods when eating out. Diet therapy should be directed at modifying dietary factors known to adversely influence blood cholesterol-saturated fats, cholesterol, and obesity. Diet therapy (with exercise) is not always adequate. High risk individuals with no overt coronary artery disease but with ≤2 risk factors, as well as patients with coronary artery disease, are potential candidates for drug therapy, depending on their LDL cholesterol levels. The 'statins' are the drug of choice for patients with coronary disease and elevated LDL cholesterol or familial LDL- cholesterol abnormalities. These drugs increase high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and reduce LDL cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and total mortality. Bile acid resins lower LDL cholesterol and are often used to augment the effects of the statins and niacin. Niacin is particularly useful in the management of patients with combined hyperlipidemia and low HDL cholesterol levels. Gemfibrozil is effective in familial dysbetalipoproteinemia and is the drug of choice for patients with severely elevated serum triglycerides.
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