How to Lower Cholesterol Level?
Lower Cholesterol Level: Committing to exercise and a healthy diet is usually enough to decrease cholesterol levels. Sometimes medication is needed. This is especially true if LDL cholesterol levels are very high.
The most commonly prescribed medications used to lower cholesterol level are called statins. Statins work by blocking your liver from producing more cholesterol. These drugs also indirectly decrease the blood levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and some of them may also raise the level of the “good” cholesterol, HDL.
Examples of statins include:
- atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- fluvastatin (Lescol)
- rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- simvastatin (Zocor)
Other medications to lower cholesterol include:
- bile acid resins or sequestrants like colesevelam (Welchol), colestipol (Colestid), or cholestyramine (Prevalite)
- cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as ezetimibe (Zetia)
There are also combination products that decrease both the absorption of the cholesterol you eat and also reduce the production of cholesterol in your liver. One example is a combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin (Vytorin).
Since a person’s lifestyle typically worsens high cholesterol, lifestyle changes are crucial in order to lower it. Take these steps to help lower your cholesterol.
- Eat a diet low in saturated and trans fats. Lean meats, such as chicken and fish that are not fried, and lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are helpful. Avoid fried or fatty foods as well as too many carbohydrates and processed sugars
- Eat fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, which may help you lower cholesterol. Salmon, mackerel, and herring, for example, are rich in omega-3s. Walnuts, ground flaxseeds, and almonds also contain omega-3s.
- Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Quit smoking.
Herbal and Nutritional Supplements
Some foods and supplements have been suggested to help you lower cholesterol, although none have been clearly proven to do so. These include:
- oat bran (found in oatmeal and whole oats)
- blond psyllium (found in seed husk)
- ground flaxseed
Certain herbs have also been suggested to be beneficial. The level of evidence supporting these claims varies. None have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of high cholesterol. Some of these include:
- olive seed extract
- green tea extract
Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal or nutritional supplement. The herbal supplement may interact with other medications you take.
What Types of Doctors Treat High Cholesterol?
Your primary care doctor will typically be the first type of doctor to measure your cholesterol levels. A lipid panel is normally done during a routine physical exam with your primary care doctor. They may refer you to a specialist if you are at a high risk of heart disease. For example, if you are overweight or you have a hard time adhering to a diet low in saturated fat or getting regular exercise.
Specialists who treat or help manage high cholesterol include the following:
- Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in disorders of the heart. A cardiologist may be necessary if you are already experiencing more serious complications from having high cholesterol like high blood pressure or atherosclerotic heart disease.
- Nutritionists or registered dietitians are professionals who can help analyze your current diet. They can help you make a personalized cholesterol-friendly diet based on what foods you like and dislike.
- Lipidologists are doctors who specialize in the study of fats in the blood. This is an emerging branch of medicine with relatively few practitioners. Although specialized training is available in lipidology, the American Board of Medical Specialties has yet to recognize lipidology as an independent medical subspecialty. A lipidologist may be able to offer additional therapeutic options if cholesterol-lowering medications and lifestyle changes don’t help.
- Exercise physiologists help people create a personalized plan to get engaged in more exercise and physical activity. They are trained to help you get the maximum heart benefits from your exercise plan.
- Endocrinologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing diseases related to the glands. An endocrinologist can help treat people who are dealing with hormonal imbalances.
How Can High Cholesterol Be Prevented?
High cholesterol that’s caused by genetic factors can’t be prevented. There are things you can do to help lower your cholesterol to a more desirable level or prevent it from ever becoming a serious problem:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet low in animal fats.
- Eat baked, broiled, steamed, grilled and roasted foods instead of fried foods.
- Choose lean meat.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Avoid fast food and junk food.
- Eat a diet high in fiber.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking injures the blood vessels and greatly increases a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Although, moderate alcohol consumption (no more than two drinks a day) can actually raise levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
- Get your cholesterol checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends having your cholesterol levels checked every four to six years if you are a healthy adult over the age of 20. You may need to have your cholesterol checked more often if you are at an increased risk of high cholesterol.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
What Is the Outlook for High Cholesterol?
If not treated, high cholesterol can cause serious problems and even death.
Treatments for high cholesterol and heart disease have improved over the years. Medicine and education have greatly reduced the number of deaths caused by heart disease and other complications.
However, high cholesterol is still a major concern in the United States due to sedentary lifestyles and poor food choices. Making positive changes to your lifestyle, including eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise, can help you live a long and healthy life.