Colestipol (Oral)

Prescribed to patients with high cholesterol, Colestipol helps to reduce levels of cholesterol and prevents subsequent health problems.

Overview

Although people need some cholesterol in order to build cells, high levels of cholesterol can cause a range of health issues. When cholesterol is too high, it can cause fatty deposits to occur in the patient's blood vessels.

Whilst high cholesterol levels aren't the only cause of blocked arteries, they can be a significant contributor to this type of health problem. When plaque builds up in the arteries, it reduces the amount of blood which can get to and from the heart. As a result, patients may suffer from high blood pressure and, in some cases, a complete blockage may even occur. In addition to this, if plaque breaks away from the artery wall it could travel to the heart and cause life-threatening damage to the heart muscle.

When patients have high cholesterol levels, they also have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiac conditions. By reducing cholesterol levels, Colestipol (also known by the brand name Colestid) helps to decrease the patient's risk of developing coronary health problems in the future.

Whilst high levels of cholesterol may not cause noticeable symptoms at first, it can be catastrophic if left untreated. Although Colestipol should reduce cholesterol levels completely, it is specifically used to target low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Known as a bad form of cholesterol, LDL is associated with more health problems than high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Once Colestipol has been ingested, it traps bile acids in the gut and prevents them from being reabsorbed into the patient's system. In response to this, the liver creates new bile acids from cholesterol which is already present in the patient's body. This decreases the amount of cholesterol in the liver, increases LDL receptors and lowers the amount of LDL in the patient's blood.

Although lowering the patient's overall level of cholesterol is advantageous, Colestipol is particularly effective because it successfully lowers the patient's levels of LDL. When combined with lifestyle changes, Colestipol can be used to lower the patient's cholesterol on a long-term basis and decrease the risk of future heart-related health problems.

Conditions Treated:

  • High cholesterol

Type of Medicine:

  • Bile acid sequestrant

Side Effects:

When taking Colestipol, patients may notice some side effects. Generally, these are relatively mild and, as they tend to diminish over time, patients don't always require medical attention for them. Common side effects when taking Colestipol may include:

  • Pain in stomach
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Belching
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

If these side effects are particularly severe or affect the patient's day-to-day activities, they should seek their doctor's advice. If particularly serious side effects occur, patients should seek medical help immediately. These may include:

  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Constipation
  • Tarry, black stools
  • Severe stomach pain with vomiting or nausea

Patients should also seek medical help if they experience any other side effects when taking Colestipol. If they choose to do so, patients can report their side effects to the Food and Drug Administration on 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dosage:

When taking Colestipol, it's important that patients follow their doctor's instructions. Taking too much or too little of this medication may be harmful, but if patients adhere to their dosage instructions, they should gain the most benefit from the treatment.

A typical dose of Colestipol, when treating adults with high cholesterol, is 15-30mg per day. Rather than taking their daily medication in one dose, patients are often advised to split their daily medication into two or four doses. In addition to this, Colestipol should normally be taken before food. Although Colestipol can be prescribed to younger patients, they will typically be given a lower dose of the medicine.

As Colestipol is typically prescribed as a powder, patients will need to mix the medication with 3oz of liquid. In most cases, patients use water, fruit juice, milk or a carbonated drink when taking Colestipol. Patients should mix the powder into the liquid but not expect it to fully dissolve. When the powder has been mixed into the liquid, patients should drink the full 3oz. Following this, patients should rinse the glass, add a small amount of liquid and drink this as well. This ensures that no residue is left on the glass and that patients get the full dose of Colestipol.

If patients prefer, they may be able to mix Colestipol with thin soups, breakfast cereals or hot milk. In addition to this, patients could add Colestipol to pureed fruits or smoothies. If patients are unsure how to prepare Colestipol, they should seek medical advice.

If patients miss a dose of Colestipol, they should take it as soon as they remember to do so. However, it is not appropriate to take a double dose of Colestipol. If patients miss a dose and their next dose is almost due, they should simply skip the missed dose and continue taking their medication as they normally would.

Potential Drug Interactions:

If patients are taking other medications, their dose of Colestipol may be altered to prevent any drug interactions occurring. Although Colestipol is not usually recommended for use alongside the following medications, doctors may prescribe it if they feel the benefits outweigh any potential risks:

  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Bezafibrate
  • Mycophenolate Mofetil
  • Deferasirox
  • Digoxin

If Colestipol is taken at the same time as the following medications, it may result in an increase of side effects:

  • Tetracycline
  • Aceclofenac
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Diclofenac
  • Furosemide
  • Diltiazem
  • Fenofibrate
  • Ezetimibe

Although more side effects may occur when Colestipol is taken with the medicines listed above, this does not mean that all patients will experience an increase in side effects. If patients are struggling to cope with side effects when taking Colestipol, or if they are concerned about the severity of side effects, they should seek medical advice.

As drug interactions can also occur between over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements, patients should tell their doctor if they regularly use any of these substances before they start taking Colestipol. Similarly, if patients purchase supplements, vitamins or over-the-counter medicines when taking Colestipol, they should consult a medical professional before using them.

Warnings:

If patients have any other existing health problems, it may affect their use of Colestipol. If patients have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions, they should discuss them with their doctor before taking Colestipol:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroid (underactive thyroid)
  • Bleeding problems
  • Gallstones
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Blood vessel or heart disease

If patients with these conditions are prescribed Colestipol, they may undergo additional monitoring to ensure that the medication doesn't worsen or exacerbate any existing health conditions.

When patients are given Colestipol, they are normally advised to adopt lifestyle changes as well. A poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking can increase cholesterol levels significantly, as well as lead to other health problems. Patients may, therefore, be advised to eat a healthier diet, give up smoking and increase their levels of exercise whilst taking Colestipol. Patients should always seek medical advice before adopting a new or restricted diet or taking up a new exercise regime.

Diets low in cholesterol, fats and/or sugars may be recommended for patients taking Colestipol.

Colestipol tends to be less effective if the patient is overweight. Due to this, patients may be advised to lose weight whilst taking this medicine. If patients are able to successfully lose weight, their dose of Colestipol may be reduced. Patients should discuss a weight loss regime with their physician before making any drastic changes to their lifestyle.

Colestipol powder should always be mixed with liquid when it is taken by the patient. Patients should never attempt to swallow the powder in its dry form as it may present a choking hazard.

If younger patients are identified as having high cholesterol, they may be prescribed Colestipol. As cholesterol is needed for normal development, this medication is not normally given to infants under the age of two.

Colestipol is routinely prescribed to older patients as they often have high levels of cholesterol. However, side effects may be more common in patients over the age of sixty as they can be more sensitive to the effects of the medication. To combat this, physicians may prescribe a relatively low starting dose of Colestipol and increase the patient's dose once their reaction to the medicine has been determined.

If patients adhere to their dosage schedule, Colestipol is not thought to present a significant risk to patients who are pregnant. Normally, a relatively small amount of Colestipol is able to get into the bloodstream so only a minimal amount should be able to be passed on to the fetus. However, taking Colestipol when pregnant can make it more difficult for the patient to absorb vitamins and this could have an effect on normal fetal development. Due to this, Colestipol may not be prescribed to patients who are pregnant or who are hoping to become pregnant in the near future.

If patients become pregnant whilst taking Colestipol, they should contact their physician for medical advice.

Colestipol can affect milk production in some patients and it can also affect the composition of breastmilk. Due to this, an alternative medication may be prescribed to patients who are breastfeeding. If doctors confirm that Colestipol is safe for the patient to take whilst they are breastfeeding, the infant should be monitored to ensure that they are receiving an adequate milk intake and that they aren't suffering from any of the side effects associated with Colestipol. Patients should discuss the relevant risks with their doctor before breastfeeding whilst taking Colestipol.

If patients have any allergies, they should inform their doctor before they begin taking Colestipol. If patients experience difficulty breathing, itching and/or swelling of the throat, face or lips, it may indicate that an allergic reaction is occurring. If so, patients should seek immediate medical help and regard the incident as a medical emergency.

Storage

Usually, Colestipol should be stored at room temperature and away from direct light, moisture and heat. Colestipol powder should also be kept in a closed container and only mixed with liquid when the patient is ready to take their medication.

When storing medicine at home, patients should ensure that children and/or pets cannot gain access to it.

If patients are advised to stop taking Colestipol or if it reaches its use-by date, they should dispose of it carefully. Medicines should never be thrown out with normal household waste. Instead, patients should contact their pharmacist or physician to discuss a safe disposal method.

Summary

High cholesterol is a common problem and affects millions of patients each year. As the condition is linked to serious health problems, it's vital that high cholesterol is addressed as quickly as possible. Although lifestyle changes can play a significant role in lowering cholesterol levels, these changes can be enhanced by taking appropriate medication.

When taken in appropriate doses, Colestipol enables patients to lower the levels of harmful cholesterol in their body and, therefore, successfully lowers the patient's risk of heart disease, strokes and coronary conditions.