- What is colestipol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for colestipol?
- Is colestipol available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for colestipol?
- What are the uses for colestipol?
- What are the side effects of colestipol?
- What is the dosage for colestipol?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with colestipol?
- What else should I know about colestipol?
What is colestipol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Colestipol is an oral cholesterol-lowering drug that is not absorbed from the intestine into the body. Rather, it works by binding to bile acids in the intestine and promoting the elimination of bile acids in the stool. Bile acids are formed in the liver from cholesterol, secreted into bile and with the bile enter the intestine. Most of the bile acids are reabsorbed from the intestine back into the body to be cycled again through the liver and bile. By promoting the elimination of bile acids, colestipol forces the liver to convert more cholesterol into bile acids in order to replace the lost bile acids. This reduces the levels of cholesterol within the body. Colestipol works similarly to cholestyramine (Questran).
- Colestipol was approved by the FDA in 1977.
What are the uses for colestipol?
- Colestipol is used together with dietary modifications for the treatment of high blood cholesterol levels.
- Other less common uses include treatment of diarrhea due to increased intestinal bile acids after some types of intestinal surgery and treatment of itching associated with partial obstruction to the flow of bile due to liver disease. The itching is believed to be due to the accumulation of bile acids in the body.
What are the side effects of colestipol?
The most common adverse effect is constipation. Other less frequent side effects are:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Abdominal distension
Rarely, ulcers, reduced absorption of nutrients, fatty stools, and stomach or intestinal bleeding may occur.
Other serious side effects of colestipol include:
- Fecal impaction
- Esophageal obstruction
- Gallbladder inflammation
Quick GuideLower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart
What is the dosage for colestipol?
- Colestipol is most often prescribed in 2 to 4 divided doses but may also be prescribed once daily.
- The usual adult dose is 2-16 gm of tablets administered once or twice daily or 5-30 grams of granules once daily or 4 times daily.
- Tablets should not be cut, crushed or chewed.
- Granules should be mixed in three ounces of fluid (water or fruit juice).
Which drugs or supplements interact with colestipol?
- Colestipol binds many different compounds in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby inhibiting their absorption into the body. For example, colestipol can bind with and decrease the oral absorption of carbamazepine (Tegretol), diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide (found in Dyazide, Maxzide) and furosemide (Lasix), propranolol (Inderal), tetracyclines, and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, and K). Colestipol can bind with and inhibit the absorption of thyroid hormones. Colestipol also can bind with ursodiol (Actigall, Urso). Separating the doses of colestipol and these other compounds by several hours should prevent binding with colestipol. Generally, other drugs should be administered one hour before colestipol or 4 hours after colestipol is administered.
- Colestipol binds to vitamin K, a vitamin which is required by the liver to make the factors that allow blood to clot. Colestipol, by reducing the action of vitamin K, may exaggerate the effect of warfarin (Coumadin), reducing the body's ability to form blood clots. This interaction could lead to abnormal bleeding. On the other hand, colestipol can bind with warfarin directly and inhibit the absorption of warfarin. To avoid this interaction, doses of warfarin and colestipol should be separated by at least 4-6 hours.
- Colestipol is closely related to cholestyramine. Cholestyramine has been more extensively studied than colestipol. Therefore, there are several drug interactions which have been described with cholestyramine for which data is lacking with colestipol. It would be prudent to assume that a similar interactions exist for both drugs and to separate ingestion of colestipol from the other drugs by several hours. These interactions with cholestyramine include
What else should I know about colestipol?
What preparations of colestipol are available?
- Granules: 5 gm/ packet or bulk (5gm/teaspoonful) in canisters
- Tablets: 1 gm.
How should I keep colestipol stored?
Tablets and granules should be stored at room temperature, 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F).
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
High cholesterol can be a dangerous condition. Take the Cholesterol Quiz to understand what high cholesterol means in terms of...
Picture of Cholesterol
Cholesterol carried in particles of low density (LDL cholesterol) is referred to as the "bad" cholesterol because elevated levels...
Lower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart
Need to lower your cholesterol levels? Use these smart diet tips to quickly and easily lower your blood cholesterol levels....
Cholesterol Drugs: What to Expect With Heart Medication
When diet and exercise aren't enough, should you turn to drugs? Learn cholesterol basics, drug classes, and available drugs along...
Heart-Healthy Diet: 25 Foods to Protect Your Cardiovascular System
See 25 foods loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system. Plus, find easy meal/recipes and...
Fat-Burning Foods in Pictures: Blueberries, Green Tea, and More
Learn about fat-fighting foods such as grapefruit, hot peppers, vinegar, and more. Discover the benefits along with surprising...
Cholesterol Levels: What the Numbers Mean
Do you know the different cholesterol levels and what they mean? Learn the alphabet soup of cholesterol testing: LDL, HDL, good,...
Worst-Appetizer Pictures: Spinach Dip, Potato Skins, and More
A tasty appetizer can be a great start to any meal--but some appetizers are diet disasters. Potato skins and cheese fries pack on...
Snacks With 100 Calories or Less
Reducing calories is an effective weight loss strategy. Here are 25 100-calorie snacks that offer quick, satisfying solutions to...
The Worst Foods in Your Fridge
What are the worst foods to eat in your fridge? From mayonnaise to ice cream and butter to processed lunch meats, learn about the...
Sugar Addiction Facts: Cravings, Hidden Sugar, and More in Pictures
Learn about sugar addiction to see why we often crave sweets and binge on carbs. Learn how sugar affects the brain and get tips...
Food Cravings Slideshow: Chocolate, Carbs, Salt, Sugar
Learn which food cravings can wreck your diet. Whether your craving something creamy or crunchy, sweet or salty, food cravings...
Easy, Tasty Grilled Foods for Dinner Tonight in Pictures
Explore easy and tasty grilled foods. When your rushed to get dinner on the table, fire up the grill and use these delicious,...
Heart Health Pictures: How to Lower Triglycerides
Learn 14 ways to lower triglycerides. Learn to keep your heart healthy and triglyceride levels in check with these diet,...
Cholesterol: High Triglyceride Foods to Avoid
High triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease. Lower triglyceride levels and reduce cholesterol by eating foods that...
12 Reasons to Love the Mediterranean Diet in Pictures
The Mediterranean diet is a delicious way to eat healthy. We show you how to get the most from this diet with foods like olive...
Food Swaps for Meals and Snacks for Heart Health in Pictures
Explore 10 food swaps for heart-wise dining. Learn what food to buy and how to cook in order to make a big difference for your...
Healthy Eating: 16 Resolutions for Better Habits
Is eating better one of your New Year's resolutions? Get tips for healthier eating habits to incorporate into daily life...
Related Disease Conditions
Cholesterol (Lowering Your Cholesterol)
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride...
Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms, Diet, Treatment, and Test
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms of: Abdominal...
Diarrhea (Causes, Medicine, Remedies, Treatment)
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal...
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBS) is a liver disease in which bile building up in the organ damages bile ducts. Ultimately, this...
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management....
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection...
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Benefits, Uses, Foods)
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that help decrease one's cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reduce the risk of...
Stress and Heart Disease
The connection between stress and heart disease is not clear. Stress itself may be a risk factor, or high levels of stress may...
How the Heart Works
The heart is a very important organ in the body. It is responsible for continuously pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood...
Fitness: Exercise for a Healthy Heart
Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease. To achieve maximum benefits, do a mix of stretching exercise, aerobic...
Vitamins & Exercise: Heart Attack Prevention Series
Vitamins and exercise can lower your risk for heart attack and heart disease. Folic acid, vitamins, and homocysteine levels are...
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack involves damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to a blood clot. The aim of heart attack treatment is to...
Stool Color, Changes in Color, Texture, and Form
Stool color changes can very from green, red, maroon, yellow, white, or black. Causes of changes of stool color can range from...
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to...
High Cholesterol: Frequently Asked Questions
Cholesterol occurs naturally in the body. High blood cholesterol levels increase a person's risk of developing heart disease,...
Smoking and Heart Disease
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease in women and men. Nicotine in cigarettes decrease oxygen to the heart, increases...
How to Lower Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is naturally produced by the body, and is a building block for cell membranes and hormones. Low-density lipoprotein...
Heart Disease in Women
Heart disease in women has somewhat different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment compared to heart disease in men. Many women...
Heart Disease Treatment in Women
Heart disease treatment in women should take into account female-specific guidelines that were developed by the American Heart...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) FAQs
- Do Bile Acid Resins Lower Cholesterol?
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top colestipol Related Articles
Heart-Healthy FoodsSee 25 foods loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system. Plus, find easy meal/recipes and menu ideas for heart health.
Cholesterol Drugs SlidesWhen diet and exercise aren't enough, should you turn to drugs? Learn cholesterol basics, drug classes, and available drugs along with their benefits and side effects.
Cholesterol ManagementHigh cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in an optimal range will help protect your heart and blood vessels. Cholesterol management may include lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) as well as medications to get your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in an optimal range.
Cholesterol PictureCholesterol carried in particles of low density (LDL cholesterol) is referred to as the "bad" cholesterol because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. See a picture of Cholesterol and learn more about the health topic.
CirrhosisCirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C. This disease leads to abnormalities in the liver's ability to handle toxins and blood flow, causing:
- internal bleeding,
- kidney failure,
- mental confusion,
- body fluid accumulation, and
- frequent infections.
DiarrheaDiarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Fat-Fighting FoodsLearn about fat-fighting foods such as grapefruit, hot peppers, vinegar, and more. Discover the benefits along with surprising facts about how they may fight fat.
Heart Attack and Atherosclerosis Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management. Symptoms of heart attack in men and women include chest discomfort and pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, stomach, or back. Women experience the same symptoms as men; however, they also may experience:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pain in the upper abdomen
Leading a healthy lifestyle with a heart healthy low-fat diet, and exercise can help prevent heart disease and heart attack.
Heart: How the Heart WorksThe heart is a very important organ in the body. It is responsible for continuously pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body to sustain life. It is a fist-sized muscle that beats (expands and contracts) 100,000 times per day, pumping a total of five or six quarts of blood each minute, or about 2,000 gallons per day.
Cholesterol QuizHigh cholesterol can be a dangerous condition. Take the Cholesterol Quiz to understand what high cholesterol means in terms of your health risks.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms of:
- Abdominal pain
- Increased gas (flatulence)
- Abdominal cramping
- Food intolerance
Two new tests are now available that may help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) and irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D). Treatment for IBS includes diet changes, medications, and other lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
ItchItching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Lower Cholesterol TipsNeed to lower your cholesterol levels? Use these smart diet tips to quickly and easily lower your blood cholesterol levels. Choose heart-healthy foods to lower cholesterol and improve your heart health.
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that help decrease one's cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Omega-3s are found in:
- walnuts, and
- canola oil.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBS) is a liver disease in which bile building up in the organ damages bile ducts. Ultimately, this can cause liver failure. A number of drugs are available to treat this disease of unknown cause, but the only ultimate cure is a liver transplant.
Stress and Heart DiseaseThe connection between stress and heart disease is not clear. Stress itself may be a risk factor, or high levels of stress may make risk factors for heart disease worse. The warning signs of stress can be physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral. Reducing stressors in an individuals life not only can lead to a more productive life, but may also decrease the risk for heart disease and causes of heart disease.