Clofibrate (Oral)

Used to prevent the build-up of cholesterol, Clofibrate helps to stop the blood vessels from becoming clogged.

Overview

When cholesterol and fat blocks the blood vessels, it can cause a number of health problems. When cholesterol levels become too high, it can cause deposits of fat to settle in the blood vessels. As a result, patients can face an increased risk of heart problems.

Once the blood vessels are narrowed because of the fat and cholesterol build-up, blood cannot get to the heart as it normally would. If left untreated, patients may develop coronary heart disease. Alternatively, if the arteries harden or plaque is allowed to form, it may break away and cause a blockage to occur. If blood is blocked from getting to the heart, patients may suffer a medical emergency, such as a heart attack.

Although patients can reduce their cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes, medication can also be used to prevent cholesterol and fatty deposits from building up. Clofibrate works by increasing the activity of lipoprotein lipase. In turn, this increased activity encourages the conversion of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) to low-density lipoprotein (LDL). In addition to this, Clofibrate can increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood.

Whilst HDL is still a form of cholesterol, it helps to carry 'bad' cholesterol away from areas it shouldn't be. As a result, increasing the patient's levels of HDL can reduce their risk of suffering subsequent heart related problems.

Although both VLDL and LDL are considered to be'bad' forms of cholesterol, converting VLDL to LDL at an increased rate can help patients who are suffering from high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood. Whilst both VLDL and LDL transport cholesterol and triglycerides around the body, VDLD is comprised of approximately 55-65% triglycerides, whilst LDL is made up of approximately 10% triglycerides.

In order to reduce the risk of subsequent health problems, both VLDL and LDL levels should be within a normal range. By increasing the conversion of VLDL to LDL, however, Clofibrate helps to prevent fatty deposits from being carried around the body and potentially causing blockages.

When used in conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes, Clofibrate can help patients to reduce the most harmful type of cholesterol in their body, as well as increasing levels of HDL. As a result, effective treatment with Clofibrate can help to reduce the symptoms associated with high levels of cholesterol and may prevent the patient from experiencing additional health problems.

Conditions Treated

Type of Medicine

  • Lipid-lowering Agent

Side-Effects

Taking any medication can result in side-effects occurring but there are some specific side-effects associated with Clofibrate. Most of the side-effects caused by Clofibrate are fairly mild and, in most instances, they dissipate as treatment continues. If patients experience adverse effects when taking Clofibrate, they are most likely to suffer from:

Unless these side-effects are particularly severe or troublesome, patients do not normally need to seek medical help for them. If they continue for a long period of time, however, patients should consult their physician.

When patients are taking Clofibrate, there are some side-effects which may warrant medical investigation. If patients experience any of the following side-effects when taking Clofibrate, they should seek medical help:

  • Pain in chest
  • Irregular heartrate
  • Severe stomach pain alongside vomiting or nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness or cough
  • Decreased urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Chills or fever
  • Pain in side or lower back
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Painful urination
  • Swelling in lower legs and/or feet

Dosage

When patients are prescribed Clofibrate to treat high levels of cholesterol, they are normally advised to take 1.5-2 grams per day. Although this is a standard daily dose, patients are often instructed to split the dose and take the medication four times daily.

It should be noted, however, that every patient is different and will be given specific dosage instructions when medication is prescribed for them. Patients should follow their physician's dosage instructions when taking Clofibrate or any other medication.

By taking Clofibrate with food or immediately after eating, patients can reduce the risk of stomach-related side-effects occurring. When taking Clofibrate, patients are normally advised to take the tablet or capsule with a full glass of water (8oz).

If patients miss a dose of medication, they should take the dose as soon as they remember to do so. Double doses of Clofibrate should not be taken, however. If the next dose of medicine is almost due, patients should skip the dose they've missed completely and continue with their normal schedule.

Potential Drug Interactions

If patients are taking more than one medication, drug interactions may occur. Due to this, it may not be appropriate for Clofibrate to be prescribed alongside some medications. In most instances, Clofibrate is not recommended for patients who are already taking Clofibrate.

Similarly, patients may not be given Clofibrate if they are taking any of the following medications:

  • Atorvastatin
  • Simvastatin
  • Ezetimibe
  • Lovastatin
  • Fluvastatin
  • Pravastatin

If patients are prescribed Clofibrate alongside these drugs, their physician may alter the dose the patient should take. This can help to reduce interactions occurring.

Taking Clofibrate alongside the following medications may lead to an increase in side-effects:

  • Chlorpropamide
  • Tolazamide
  • Rifampin
  • Colchicine
  • Rifapentine
  • Furosemide

Despite this, physicians may feel that the benefits of the treatment outweigh the potential risks. In addition to this, side-effects may be treated with additional medicines.

Although Clofibrate can interact with some other prescription medications, it could also interact with over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. If patients are taking or regularly use any of these substances, they should discuss this with their doctor before beginning the treatment.

Warnings

Clofibrate is effective in reducing cholesterol levels but is often used in conjunction with lifestyle changes. Physicians may recommend that patients adhere to a new diet, for example, or that they avoid certain foods and increase the amount of exercise they do. Whilst patients should seek medical advice before embarking on significant lifestyle changes, they should also adhere to their doctor's instructions. Usually, patients have greater success in lowering their cholesterol if Clofibrate is taken whilst lifestyle changes are being made.

If patients have been diagnosed with other medical conditions, they may not be prescribed Clofibrate. The following conditions may impact upon treatment with this medication:

Before taking Clofibrate, patients should discuss their medical history and existing conditions with their doctor.

Clofibrate may not be as effective if patients are significantly overweight. In such cases, patients may be advised to reduce their weight whilst taking Clofibrate.

If patients are following a low-sugar, low-sodium or other restrictive diet, they should inform all healthcare professionals they come into contact with. Many medicines contain ingredients which could interact with their diet and this must be taken into account before any additional treatment is given.

It has been suggested that Clofibrate could increase the risk of pancreatitis, liver disease and/or cancer. Clofibrate may also increase the risk of gallstones or the risk of complications following surgery to remove the gallbladder. Despite this, Clofibrate may decrease the risk of the patient suffering a heart attack. Patients should discuss these risks with their physician before taking Clofibrate to ensure that the medication is right for them.

As studies have only been carried out on adult patients, the effects of Clofibrate on young people and children are unclear. Although Clofibrate may be prescribed to younger patients, it is not normally given to patients who are under the age of two years old.

If Clofibrate is taken by patients who pregnant, the medicine may be passed on to their unborn baby. If this happens, the medication could cause harm as the baby's body will be unable to metabolize the drug. Due to this, Clofibrate is not normally prescribed to pregnant patients. If doctors believe the benefits of taking Clofibrate outweigh the risks, pregnant patients should consider the possible outcomes of taking Clofibrate carefully.

If patients become pregnant whilst taking Clofibrate, they should seek medical help from their physician.

If patients are breastfeeding, Clofibrate may not be an appropriate medication for them to take. It is likely that the medicine will be passed on to the infant via breastmilk and could cause them harm. As Clofibrate is not normally recommended for use in infants, patients should not take Clofibrate and continue breastfeeding an infant. If patients are breastfeeding when they are prescribed Clofibrate, they should discuss the risks with their physician before beginning treatment.

When using Clofibrate, patients should be monitored regularly. By carrying out blood tests, physicians can confirm whether the medication is having the desired effect and, if so, how much the patient's cholesterol levels have been lowered. Based on these results, doctors will advise the patient whether or not they will need to continue taking Clofibrate.

Unless patients are advised to stop taking Clofibrate by a medical professional, they should not suddenly stop taking the medication. If they do, the levels of fat in their blood could increase. When doctors advise the patient to stop taking this medication, they may also instruct them to follow a specific low-fat diet in order to counteract this effect.

Before taking Clofibrate, patients should make their doctor aware of any allergies they have. If patients exhibit an allergic reaction when taking Clofibrate, they should seek medical help immediately. Allergic reactions are often characterized by difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips and/or throat and itching. As this can be a life-threatening emergency, it's essential that patients access medical assistance quickly.

Storage

As patients are normally required to take Clofibrate on a daily basis, they will need to keep the medicine at home. When storing medication at home, it's vital that patients find a safe location and keep the medicine out of reach of children and away from pets.

In addition to this, Clofibrate will normally need to be stored at room temperature and in a location which is free from heat, moisture and/or direct sunlight.

If patients are told to discontinue Clofibrate or if the medicine is out-of-date, it should be disposed of. When throwing out medication, it's important to consider the potentially harmful effect it could have on other people and animals. Due to this, Clofibrate should not be thrown out with normal household waste. Instead, patients should seek help from their pharmacist or doctor so that the medicine can be disposed of safely.

Summary

Although many people have high levels of cholesterol in their blood, it can be extremely dangerous. Whilst patients may not notice symptoms of high cholesterol at first, it can significant increase their risk of medical problems, such as congestive heart failure or coronary heart disease.

It's important, therefore, that cholesterol levels are reduced before these medical issues occur. Similarly, reducing the patient's cholesterol should decrease their risk of suffering subsequent heart problems.

By taking Clofibrate as instructed by their doctor, patients can reduce the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood. Whilst the medication can be effective if used in isolation, patients are often advised to overhaul their lifestyle whilst taking Clofibrate.

Using a lipid-lowering medication, such as Clofibrate, following a healthier diet and incorporating exercise into their daily routine, patients can successfully reduce their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. As a result, patients will lower their risk of cardiac problems and they should also notice a considerable improvement in their overall wellbeing.