National Cholesterol Education Month: The lowdown on your levels

(BPT) - With National Cholesterol Education Month upon us this September, it’s a good time to take control of your health inside and out, particularly your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is sneaky – you can’t see it or feel it – but when armed with a little bit of knowledge, you can work with your doctor to make smart decisions about the best way to manage your cholesterol.

What causes high cholesterol? For some, it’s consuming foods that are high in saturated fats (primarily derived from animals) and trans fats (found in some tropical oils). For others, a genetic predisposition may render their bodies unable to remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) from the blood, leading to unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Regardless of your diet and family history, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all adults age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years with a simple blood test. In the case of cholesterol levels, knowledge is power – when left untreated, elevated cholesterol levels can lead to the buildup of a hard, thick substance called plaque, which can narrow your arteries, slowing down and even blocking the flow of blood to your heart. If the blood supply to your heart becomes blocked, it can cause a heart attack; similarly, if blood flow to the brain is blocked, it can lead to a stroke.

Fortunately, there are ways to help manage your high cholesterol. Dr. Shawn Dhillon, Medical Director at Calvert Medical Group in Baltimore, first recommends lifestyle adjustments, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and consistent exercise, for patients diagnosed with high cholesterol. If those aren’t enough, Dhillon notes that a prescription medication called a statin may help lower cholesterol levels.

“For my patients with high cholesterol who aren’t able to achieve their cholesterol goals with diet and exercise alone, I typically prescribe a statin medication, which is extremely effective in helping to lower cholesterol in the blood,” says Dhillon.

There are several statins available, but not all statins are the same. LIVALO® (pitavastatin) is one such nistatin medication that has been proven to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol by up to 45 percent and in clinical trials has low rates of certain side effects. Compared to most other statins, LIVALO also has a reduced potential to interact with other medications you may be taking.

“My goal is not only to help patients manage their high cholesterol, but to make sure they adhere to their treatment plan, as discontinuing medication without speaking to their doctor may have dangerous consequences,” says Dhillon. “Remember, high cholesterol has no signs or symptoms – a patient can quit his or her statin and feel fine, but what’s going on inside the body is another story. That’s why it’s important to take a statin if your doctor recommends one and – here’s the key – stick with it. If you’re having challenges, your doctor has the tools to help you switch to another statin that may work better for you.”

Debbie D. – one of approximately 38.6 million Americans taking a statin for high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – knows the importance of finding the right statin to fit her personal needs. Following her high cholesterol diagnosis nearly two decades ago, Debbie suffered side effects as a result of the other statins she tried before LIVALO. “I was prescribed a variety of statins for cholesterol to see if my leg cramps would cease, but nothing worked,” explained Debbie. “I couldn’t do the things I liked to do because of the leg cramps. But then one day, my cardiologist suggested I try LIVALO.”

Today, Debbie has achieved her cholesterol goals and is back to enjoying all the things that she loves to do without side effects from other statins slowing her down. “I'm enjoying my life. I jump out of bed like it is nothing. I run, I exercise, I take long walks, I have family time and vacations,” Debbie says. “It took finding the right medication, and for me, it was LIVALO. Now I can live the way I want and I don’t have to settle for anything less.”

Visit livalorx.com to learn more.

Important Safety Information for LIVALO® (pitavastatin) tablets

Who should NOT take LIVALO?

LIVALO is not right for everyone. Do not take LIVALO if:

  • You have a known allergy to LIVALO or any of its ingredients.
  • You have active liver problems, including some abnormal liver test results.
  • You are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant, as it may harm the baby.
  • You are currently taking cyclosporine or gemfibrozil.

What is the most important information I should know and talk to my doctor about?

  • Call your healthcare provider or get help right away if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as rash, itching, or hives.
  • Muscle problems may be an early sign of rare, serious conditions. Tell your doctor right away if you have any unexplained muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness, particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever, or if these muscle signs or symptoms persist after discontinuing LIVALO.
  • Serious liver problems have been reported rarely in patients taking statins, including LIVALO. Your doctor should do liver tests before you start, and if you have symptoms of liver problems while you are taking LIVALO. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you feel more tired than usual, have a loss of appetite, upper belly pain, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of the skin or eyes.
  • Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications you take including nonprescription medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
  • Increases in blood sugar levels have been reported with statins, including LIVALO.
  • Tell your doctor about your alcohol use.
  • Tell your healthcare provider of a known or suspected pregnancy.

What are the most common side effects of LIVALO?

The most common side effects of LIVALO in clinical studies were:

  • Back pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain in the legs or arms

This is not a complete list of side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.

Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

How should I store and take LIVALO?

  • Store LIVALO tablets at room temperature, in a dry place, and out of the reach of children.
  • LIVALO can be taken at any time of day, with or without food.
  • Swallow the tablet whole. Do not split, crush, dissolve, or chew.
  • Do not exceed 4 mg once daily dosing of LIVALO.

Other important information I should know about LIVALO.

  • LIVALO has not been studied to evaluate its effect on reducing heart-related disease or death.
  • LIVALO is available by prescription only.

For additional information, please see the full Prescribing Information or visit www.LivaloRx.com

© Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. (3/2018) – LIV-RA-0111 PI of 11/2016