Why Do I Have To Get Blood Drawn Regularly While On Cholesterol Medication?

Dr. B. Greg Brown answers the question: 'Routine Blood Draws For Cholesterol?'

ByB. Greg Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, University of Washington Medical Center
December 23, 2008, 5:05 PM

— -- Question: Ever since I started taking cholesterol medication, I have to get my blood drawn every time I go to the clinic? Why is that?

Answer: So, you have to go to the clinic to see your doctor, and every time you go, you're required to see a blood draw specialist who takes some blood. Why is that?

There are two real reasons. One is that the doctor wants to know how well your cholesterol is responding. There are a set of guidelines now available to all physicians who treat patients with heart problems or cholesterol problems, and those guidelines say that you want to have a target value for your good cholesterol, or for your bad cholesterol, and, eventually, there will be a target value for the good cholesterol. So, the goal is to know how well you're doing on your particular medical regimen, and the doctor can adjust the regimen if necessary.

The second reason is that occasionally -- and I say 'occasionally' advisedly – occasionally, people will have problems with liver enzyme elevation or with muscle aches, so they're also monitoring for potential side effects of these drugs. Now, only 1 in 100 patients will have any kind of minor complications, and severe complications for many of the drugs that are used are really extremely rare: 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 100,000.

So, the goal for these blood tests, which are important and help you, are to make sure that you're getting the kind of cholesterol response and also make sure that you're not having any side effects of the drugs or complications of the treatment.

Next: Can I Take My Cholesterol Medication In The Morning, Instead Of At Night?

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