Fibrates, also referred to as fibric acid derivatives are a class of drugs that are used to lower blood triglyceride levels. The body needs some triglycerides to remain healthy and active but when they are in high amount, they could raise the risk of suffering from heart disease and other conditions as pancreatitis. When you eat, any calories that are not used immediately is converted into a form of fat known as triglycerides and stored in fat cells. Later on, hormones will release the stored triglycerides to provide the body with the energy it needs between meals.
The following drugs fall under the class of Fibrates:
Fibrates lower the level of triglycerides by reducing the production of very low-density lipoprotein or the triglyceride-carrying particles that circulate in the blood by the liver. In addition, fibrates also speed up the removal triglycerides in the body. Fibric acid derivatives may also help to some extent in increasing high-density lipoprotein in the blood.
Since fibrates convert very low-density lipoprotein to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, they may not be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol. Patients with high cholesterol are prescribed fibrates to help lower the production of the triglycerides. These drugs are used alone in preventing heart attacks particularly in patients who have elevated levels of blood triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein.
High triglycerides also can cause the inflammation of the pancreas also known as pancreatitis. Patients with pancreatitis may benefit from fibrate drugs. Pancreatitis can cause serious and severe pain of the abdomen.
Fibrates Side Effects
Patients using fibric acid derivatives or fibrates may experience different kinds of side effects. Some of the common side effects include:
- stomach upset
- At times fibrates can inflame or irritate the liver, though the irritation is usually less severe and reversible. However, occasionally, the irritation of liver could be severe prompting the patient to stop using them.
If you are prescribed fibrate drugs, you need to watch out of any side effects. You can see your doctor if you experience persistent or severe side effects. When used for several years, fibrates present a risk of developing gallstones.
The effectiveness of blood thinners like warfarin may increase when a patient is administered fibrate drugs. If both medications are used at the same time, doctors may want to adjust the dose of warfarin in order to avoid excessive thinning of blood. Over thinning of blood may result to excessive bleeding.
Combining fibrates with statins increases risk of rhabdomyolysis or myopathy. When fibrates are used alongside statins, they might induce muscle damage. Gemfibrozil, a fibrate drug, hinders the breakdown of some statins like lovastatin, and it could result to higher levels of these statins in body that could cause muscle toxicity.
Doctors tend to avoid such combination to prevent damage of muscle tissue in patients. However, fenofibrate, of the drugs in this class, does not impair the breakdown of statins and may be safer to use with fibrates if necessary. Some statins may be combined with fibrates but it should be evaluated properly to determine the effects and benefits.
Statins like pravastatin tend to have lower muscle toxicity when combined with fibrates, but the risks exist and caution needs to be taken when these medications are being used together.