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Cholesterol Medications and Alcohol Interactions

Written by L. Anderson, PharmD on Nov 7, 2017.

Can you drink alcohol while taking cholesterol medication? HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also called statins, are a widely prescribed group of medications used to lower high cholesterol and other lipids (hyperlipidemia) in addition to diet. Statins are used to help protect the heart and vascular system and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. Statins work by lowering LDL (low density lipoproteins, or “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, or by raising HDL (high density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol).

  • Alcohol and cholesterol medications known as statins: you may consider moderating your alcohol intake because statins mixed with alcohol may elevate triglyceride levels and possibly lead to liver damage. If you drink more than 2 glasses of alcohol daily, discuss this with your doctor.
  • Patients using cholesterol medications and alcohol who have liver disease due to excessive alcohol use or who consume large quantities of alcohol should alert their doctor to this issue. Statins can lead to liver disease in roughly 2% of patients, and ongoing monitoring of liver function may be needed. You should not use statins if you have active liver disease or elevated liver enzymes. Your doctor will check your liver enzymes before starting a statin.
  • High cholesterol and alcohol use can be linked if alcohol is consumed chronically and excessively.

Niacin, a B vitamin, may be used to lower cholesterol in addition to diet. Niacin may lower total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides and raise HDL levels.

  • Avoid alcohol at the time of niacin administration due to an increased risk o flushing and itching.
  • Tell your doctor if you have liver disease or consume large amounts of alcohol on a chronic basis. Niacin should not be used if you have a history of or current liver disease.

Juxtapid (lomitapide) and Kynamro (mipomersen sodium) are medications used in patients with an inherited type of high cholesterol.

  • There is a risk of liver toxicity with these drugs. Drinking alcohol with these drugs may increase your chance of having liver problems or make your liver problems worse.
  • It is important you limit alcohol consumption to no more than one alcohol-containing drink per day.
  • If you have symptoms of liver injury (nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, yellow skin or whites of the eyes, extreme tiredness, flu-like symptoms) contact your doctor immediately.

Common Cholesterol Medications

Generic Name Brand Name
atorvastatin Lipitor
fluvastatin Lescol
lomitapide Juxtapid
lovastatin Mevacor
mipomersen sodium Kynamro
niacin (vitamin B3) Niaspan, Niacin SR, Slo-Niacin
pitavastatin Livalo
pravastatin Pravachol
simvastatin Zocor
rosuvastatin Crestor

*Note: This is not a complete list; always check with your pharmacist for possible drug-alcohol interactions.

Types of Drug Interactions With Alcohol

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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