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Study finds fibrates may be overprescribed for cholesterol problems

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Individuals who receive unhealthy cholesterol tests are often prescribed fibrates, a class of medications that are intended to improve their scores. However, a new study is questioning the benefit of these medications, even as rates of prescribing are increasing.

Fibrates are intended to increase levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, while lowering triglycerides, a potentially harmful type of fat that can accumulate in the arteries. While the Western University of Health Services researchers who are behind the current study say that the class of medication is effective at lowering triglycerides, evidence is lacking in their ability to improve HDL levels.

The study looked at prescribing rates of fibrates in the U.S. The researchers found that prescribing rates for fibrates more than doubled between 2002 and 2009, despite a lack of clear evidence suggesting that they are beneficial. What's more, the results showed that few doctors told their patients of potentially less expensive generic medications.

The researchers told HealthDay news their findings indicate a need for the medical community to reexamine their use of these medication. While they may still have a place in treating high cholesterol, being more selective may benefit patients.

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