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What is Ezetimibe Simvastatin?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ezetimibe simvastatin is a combination of two drugs available for the treatment of high cholesterol. It is known under brand names like Zetia® and a doctor may prescribe it if a patient fails to respond to a single drug regimen for cholesterol management. Along with taking medication, a patient may need to make diet and lifestyle changes to control cholesterol levels adequately. These can include increasing frequency of exercise and eliminating or cutting back on foods known to increase cholesterol.

The ezetimibe works by blocking absorption of cholesterol from the small intestine, limiting the amount of dietary cholesterol the patient ingests. Simvastatin, a statin medication, reduces production of cholesterol in the liver by blocking the function of key enzymes. This combination therapy attacks blood cholesterol from two different angles, by limiting the amount available to work with in the first place and preventing the body from producing it.

Patients on ezetimibe simvastatin can experience a variety of side effects. Nausea, loose stool, and headaches are not uncommon. Some patients develop fatigue and muscle pain. This medication can cause a rare and dangerous side effect, rhabdomyolysis, where the body starts to break down its own muscle tissue. This can cause acute pain, usually starting in the extremities, and will rapidly overload the kidneys with protein, potentially causing serious complications. People who experience sharp, persistent pain while taking ezetimibe simvastatin should discuss it with their doctors.

These drugs can interact negatively with some other medications, including certain antibiotics and anticoagulant medications. Before taking any new medication, it is advisable to go over all drugs being taken, including over-the-counter drugs, with a doctor. The doctor can identify any potential conflicts and adjust the patient's drug regimen to avoid bad drug reactions. Drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice while on ezetimibe simvastatin can also be dangerous, as it can interfere with how the body absorbs and breaks down the medication, and can result in elevated levels of the medication in the blood.

The efficacy of this medication has been the subject of several studies. Some researchers claim ezetimibe simvastatin is no more effective than simvastatin alone. Patients considering this medication should discuss all their treatment options with a doctor and get information about the latest research on cholesterol and medications used to manage it. Relying on the medication alone may not be enough to bring the patient's cholesterol down to a safe level, and it is also important to give the medication time to work. It may take weeks or months for the patient's cholesterol levels to fall and stabilize at new concentrations.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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