Gemfibrozil is classified as a derivative of fibric acid and is comparable to fenofibrate (Tricor). It has FDA approval since 1995. Gemfibrozil modifies cholesterol and is a blood lipid medicine. Reduction in triglycerides and increased "good cholesterol levels" or high density lipoprotein (HDL) is possible with gemfibrozil. The risk of heart disease is reduced when there are higher concentrations of HDL cholesterol in the blood. The density of "bad cholesterol" or low density lipoprotein can moderately be reduced with this medication. How the medication proceeds to work in the system is not known but it is thought the triglycerides in the blood decrease due to less production of triglycerides in the liver.
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Before taking gemfibrozil your doctor must be aware if you are allergic to gemfibrozil or to any other medication.
Since the medication cannot be used with certain medical conditions so before you begin with this medicine your doctor must be informed if you have any liver disease like primary biliary cirrhosis, gall bladder disease or severe liver disease.
The medical history of any of your conditions like poorly controlled diabetes, underactive thyroid known as hypothyroidism and your use of alcohol should be told to the doctor as well. Communicate to the doctor any kidney disease you might have suffered including if you have ever developed rare but severe muscle damage as that could lead to kidney problems. The medication needs to be stopped temporarily in case of kidney problems.
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Do not stop gemfibrozil on your own but inform the doctor immediately if any of these conditions should take place like major surgery, trauma, and serious illness like sepsis or if you have severe metabolic, electrolyte or endocrine disorders, if you have low blood pressure levels and seizures that are uncontrolled.
Gemfibrozil could cause drowsiness or dizziness and so machinery or any activity that needs you to be alert including driving a car should be avoided till you are sure how the medication is affecting you. Alcohol needs to be curtailed with this medicine.
Consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant before taking gemfibrozil as the fetus could be at a possible risk. While it is not known if the medication passes into the breast milk, consult with the doctor if you are breast feeding as the medicine should be avoided while breastfeeding. In case you should get pregnant while on the medication notify your doctor immediately.
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Mention to the doctor or pharmacist any prescription or non-prescription drugs you might be taking including herbal remedies, vitamins and nutritional supplements. Definitely mention if you are taking any anticoagulants like warfarin (Coumadin), any other cholesterol lowering medicine of the statin class such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor) and also repaglinide (Prandin). This needs to be told so the doctor can adjust the dose of your medicines and observe you for any side effects.
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Gemfibrozil is advised when pancreatitis is likely to occur due to the extremely high levels of triglycerides. The drug reduces the chances of getting pancreatitis. The medication is also prescribed to individuals for the prevention of coronary heart disease if they have low HDL, high LDL and high triglycerides.
This fibrate medication is used in tandem with a proper diet to reduce fats and cholesterol levels in the blood. It is used only after all non drug treatments like diet control and weight loss exercises have proved unsuccessful in controlling high levels of cholesterol. Since increased triglycerides and cholesterol levels are cited as the major causes of heart disease it is imperative to reduce fat in the body. This is exactly where gemfibrozil is useful as it decreases the fat produced by the liver.
The medication is taken orally usually twice a day. Take it 30 minutes before your morning and evening meal unless otherwise directed by the doctor.
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The amount of dosage is decided on your medical condition and also your response to the treatment. In order to get the best results the medication must be taken regularly and at the same time each day. The benefits will show only after 1-3 months of taking the medicament. Usually patients with high cholesterol or triglycerides do not feel unwell so the medication must be continued till your doctor tells you to discontinue.
Remember to take a missed dose of the medication as soon as you realize you have missed the dose, unless it is too close to the scheduled dose. In that case the dose might get doubled so leave the missed one and take the scheduled dose only.
In order to check if gemfibrozil is helping you, regular blood tests are required. Liver and kidney function tests may also be required. Keep all appointments for the scheduled tests.
Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) is converted to low density protein (LDL) when gemfibrozil effectively removes triglycerides from lipoprotein. Some people may see a fall in triglycerides whereas there may be a rise in total as well as LDL cholesterol.
While no data exists from clinical studies about all herbal medicines and minerals taken in combination with gemfibrozil but garlic is definitely not to be taken with this drug. Cholestin that contains lovastatin continues to be sold as it is FDA approved dietary supplement. However HMG-CoA inhibitors in combination with gemfibrozil might cause rhabdomyolysis or myopathy and so the combination must be avoided. HDL levels were found to increase more with niacin (Niaspan) than gemfibrozil according to a study and so the two drugs could be complementary.
Anybody with high triglycerides levels will be advised by the doctor to avoid food like meat, egg yolks, whole milk, cream, butter, pastries, cookies, peanut butter, chocolates, olives, coconut, cheese, coconut oil, palm oil, and fried foods like potato chips as they contain a lot of fat. The doctor will probably put you on a diet that is low in fat like cottage cheese, fish, vegetables, poultry, fat free milk, egg whites, olive, canola or peanut oil (monounsaturated oils) and polyunsaturated oils like corn, safflower, soy and sunflower, soybean and cotton seed oil are recommended.
If gemfibrozil is not successful in lowering the high levels of triglycerides after 3 months it should be stopped.
Gemfibrozil should be kept in the same container it came in and stored at room temperature away from heat and moisture. It should not be stored in the bathroom. It should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Once it is no longer needed or when outdated it should be disposed of safely with the advice of the pharmacist.