High cholesterol and lipid levels Gemfibrozil How does it work? This medicine contains the active ingredient gemfibrozil, which is a type of medicine known as a fibrate. It works by reducing the production of fats (lipids) by the liver. These lipids include cholesterol and triglycerides. Cholesterol is one of the body’s fats (lipids). Cholesterol and triglycerides are important building blocks in the structure of cells and are also used in making hormones and producing energy. To some extent, the cholesterol level in blood depends on what you eat but it is mainly dependent on how the body makes cholesterol in the liver. Having too much cholesterol in the blood is not a disease in itself, but can lead to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
For the sake of simplicity, there are two sorts of cholesterol; a ‘bad’ sort called low density lipoprotein (LDL) and a ‘good’ sort called high density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is deposited in the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease, while HDL actually protects the arteries against this. Triglycerides can also be considered as ‘bad’ fats; they also contribute to the risk of heart disease.
Gemfibrozil increases the breakdown of triglycerides already present in the body. It also decreases the production of triglycerides by the liver. This lowers triglyceride levels. Gemfibrozil lowers LDL cholesterol by increasing the amount which is expelled from the gall bladder in the bile. In addition, it increases the levels of HDL cholesterol. The overall result of this is lowered levels of “”bad fats”” and raised levels of “”good fats””. Fibrates have an important role in the prevention of heart disease. They reduce the risk of fats being deposited in the major blood vessels of the heart. Any blockage in the blood vessels limits the amount of blood and therefore oxygen being carried to the heart muscle. In severe cases this can result in a heart attack (myocardial infarction). This medicine is only used when blood lipid levels cannot be lowered by diet and exercise alone. It is important to follow a diet and exercise regime when taking gemfibrozil.