Fenofibrate is a medication that is used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol levels in the blood, states MedlinePlus. Doctors usually prescribe it in combination with exercise and a low-fat diet. Classified as an antilipemic agent, fenofibrate works by accelerating cholesterol removal from the body.
Fenofibrate may cause side effects, including diarrhea; constipation; heartburn; headache; and arm, back or leg pain, states MedlinePlus. Reporting these side effects is advised if they are severe or unrelieved. Serious side effects may also occur while taking fenofibrate, such as weakness; muscle or joint pain; peeling skin; stomach pain, nausea and vomiting; rash or hives; shortness of breath; coughing up blood; and redness, swelling or pain in one leg. Patients experiencing any serious side effects require immediate medical attention.
High cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of cholesterol and fatty deposits on the inside of artery walls, according to MedlinePlus. This build-up can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke by causing decreased blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, heart and other areas of the body. While fenofibrate decreases cholesterol levels, it has not been proven to decrease the risk of stroke or heart attack.