A process by which a health professional with special training in nutrition helps people make healthy food choices and form healthy eating habits.
What to eat.
- Low-fat and low-salt cheeses
What not to eat.
- Butter and margarine.
- Regular salad dressings.
- Fatty meats.
- Whole milk dairy products.
If reducing stress hasn’t sufficiently reduced high cholesterol, there are medications and alternative remedies that you can try.
These medications and remedies include:
- omega-3 fatty acids
Whether using prescription medications or alternative supplements, always consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan. Even if they’re natural, small changes in a treatment plan can interfere with medications or supplements you’re already taking.
One of the best things you can do for both stress and cholesterol is to get regular exercise. The American Heart Association recommends walking for about 30 minutes a day, but they also point out that you can get a similar level of exercise just by cleaning your house!
Of course, going to the gym is also recommended, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get in Olympic shape overnight. Start with simple goals, even short workouts, and increase activity over time.
Know what kind of exercise routine suits your personality. If you’re more motivated to do the same exercise at a regular time, stick with a schedule. If you get bored easily, then challenge yourself with new activities.
During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep problems means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer period of time. High blood pressure is one of the leading risks for heart disease and stroke. About 75 million Americans—1 in 3 adults—have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure (BP) is affected by many environmental factors including,
- Ambient temperature
- Airs polluants.
Since there is a correlation between stress and cholesterol, preventing stress may help to prevent high cholesterol caused by it.
Long-term chronic stress is more damaging to your health and cholesterol than brief, short-term periods of stress. Lowering stress over time can help to prevent cholesterol problems. Even if you can’t cut any stress from your life, there’s options available to help manage it.
Coping with stress, whether brief or ongoing, can be difficult for many people. Coping with stress can be as simple as cutting out a few responsibilities or exercising more. Therapy with a trained psychologist can also provide new techniques to help patients manage stress.
- Coaching Techniques & Behavioural Change
What is cholesterol?
- Cholesterol is a type of lipid. It’s a waxy, fat-like substance that your liver produces naturally. It’s vital for the formation of cell membranes, certain hormones, and vitamin D.
- Cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water, so it can’t travel through your blood on its own. To help transport cholesterol, your liver produces lipoproteins.
- Lipoproteins are particles made from fat and protein. They carry cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of lipid) through your bloodstream. The two major forms of lipoprotein are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
- If your blood contains too much LDL cholesterol (cholesterol carried by low-density lipoprotein), it’s known as high cholesterol. When left untreated, high cholesterol can lead to many health problems, including heart attack or stroke.
- High cholesterol typically causes no symptoms. That’s why it’s important to get your cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis.
LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol”
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called “bad cholesterol.” It carries cholesterol to your arteries. If your levels of LDL cholesterol are too high, it can build up on the walls of your arteries.
- The buildup is also known as cholesterol plaque. This plaque can narrow your arteries, limit your blood flow, and raise your risk of blood clots. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source, over one-third of American adults have elevated levels of LDL cholesterol. Find out how you can check your LDL cholesterol levels.
HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol”
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is sometimes called “good cholesterol.” It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
- When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
Getting your cholesterol levels checked
If you’re age 20 years or older, the American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol levels checked at least once every four to six years. If you have a history of high cholesterol or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may encourage you get your cholesterol levels tested more often.
Your doctor can use a lipid panel to measure your total cholesterol level, as well your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Your total cholesterol level is the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood. It includes LDL and HDL cholesterol.
If your levels of total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol are too high, your doctor will diagnose you with high cholesterol. High cholesterol is especially dangerous when your LDL levels are too high and your HDL levels are too low.
Recent guidelines for normal cholesterol levels
Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly, including some LDL. But if your LDL levels are too high, it can raise your risk of serious health problems.
In 2013, the American College of Cardiologists (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) developed new guidelines for the treatment of high cholesterol.
Before this change, doctors would manage cholesterol based on numbers in a cholesterol levels chart. Your doctor would measure your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. They would then decide whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication based on how your numbers compared to the numbers in the chart.
Under the new guidelines, in addition to your cholesterol levels, treatment recommendations consider other risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include diabetes and the estimated 10-year risk for a cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke. So what your “normal” cholesterol levels are depends on whether you have other risk factors for heart disease.
These new guidelines recommend that if you don’t have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor should prescribe treatment if your LDL is greater than 189 mg/dL. To find out what your personal cholesterol recommendations are, talk to your doctor.
Cholesterol levels chart
With the changes mentioned above in the treatment guidelines for high cholesterol, cholesterol charts are no longer considered the best way for doctors to gauge the management of cholesterol levels in adults.
However, for the average child and adolescent, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Trusted Source classifies cholesterol levels (mg/dL) as follows:
lower than 170
higher than 45
lower than 110
200 or higher
higher than 130
lower than 40
High cholesterol symptoms
In most cases, high cholesterol is a “silent” problem. It typically doesn’t cause any symptoms. Many people don’t even realize they have high cholesterol until they develop serious complications, such as a heart attack or stroke.
That’s why routine cholesterol screening is important. If you’re age 20 years or older, ask your doctor if you should have routine cholesterol screening.
Causes of high cholesterol
Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Other lifestyle factors can also contribute to high cholesterol. These factors include inactivity and smoking.
Your genetics can also affect your chances of developing high cholesterol. Genes are passed down from parents to children. Certain genes instruct your body on how to process cholesterol and fats. If your parents have high cholesterol, you’re at higher risk of having it too.
In rare cases, high cholesterol is caused by familial hypercholesterolemia. This genetic disorder prevents your body from removing LDL. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, most adults with this condition have total cholesterol levels above 300 mg/dL and LDL levels above 200 mg/dL.
Other health conditions, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, may also increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and related complications.
Risk factors for high cholesterol
You may be at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol if you:
- are overweight or obese
- eat an unhealthy diet
- don’t exercise regularly
- smoke tobacco products
- have a family history of high cholesterol
- have diabetes, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism
People of all ages, genders, and ethnicities can have high cholesterol.
Complications of high cholesterol
If left untreated, high cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. Over time, this plaque can narrow your arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a serious condition. It can limit the flow of blood through your arteries. It also raises your risk of developing dangerous blood clots.
Atherosclerosis can result in many life-threatening complications, such as:
- heart attack
- angina (chest pain)
- high blood pressure
- peripheral vascular disease
- chronic kidney disease
High cholesterol can also create a bile imbalance, raising your risk of gallstones.
How to diagnose high cholesterol
To measure your cholesterol levels, your doctor will use a simple blood test. It’s known as a lipid panel. They can use it to assess your levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
To conduct this test, your doctor or other healthcare professional will take a sample of your blood. They will send this sample to a lab for analysis. When your test results become available, they will let you know if your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are too high.
To prepare for this test, your doctor may ask you to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 12 hours beforehand.
How to lower cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help lower it. For instance, they may recommend changes to your diet, exercise habits, or other aspects of your daily routine. If you smoke tobacco products, they will likely advise you to quit.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications or other treatments to help lower your cholesterol levels. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist for more care.
What high-cholesterol foods to avoid
Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products, such as meat, eggs, and dairy. To help treat high cholesterol, your doctor may encourage you to limit your intake of high-cholesterol foods.
For example, the following products contain high levels of cholesterol:
- fatty cuts of red meat
- liver and other organ meats
- eggs, especially the yolks
- high-fat dairy products, such as full-fat cheese, milk, ice cream, and butter
Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, you might be able to eat some of these foods in moderation.
In some cases, your doctor might prescribe medications to help lower your cholesterol levels.
Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications for high cholesterol. They block your liver from producing more cholesterol.
Examples of statins include:
- atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- fluvastatin (Lescol)
- rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- simvastatin (Zocor)
Your doctor may also prescribe other medications for high cholesterol, such as:
- bile acid resins or sequesterants, such as colesevalam (Welchol), colestipol (Colestid), or cholestyramine (Prevalite)
- cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as ezetimibe (Zetia)
Some products contain a combination of drugs to help decrease your body’s absorption of cholesterol from foods and reduce your liver’s production of cholesterol. One example is a combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin (Vytorin
How to lower cholesterol naturally
In some cases, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels without taking medications. For example, it may be enough to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking tobacco products.
Some people also claim that certain herbal and nutritional supplements may help lower cholesterol levels. For instance, such claims have been made about:
- red yeast rice
- plant sterol and stanol supplements
- oat bran, found in oatmeal and whole oats
- blond psyllium, found in psyllium seed husk
- ground flax seed
However, the level of evidence supporting these claims varies. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any of these products for treating high cholesterol. More research is needed to learn if they can help treat this condition.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal or nutritional supplements. In some cases, they might interact with other medications you’re taking.
How to prevent high cholesterol
Genetic risk factors for high cholesterol can’t be controlled. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.
To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:
- Eat a nutritious diet that’s low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fiber.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t smoke.
You should also follow your doctor’s recommendations for routine cholesterol screening. If you’re at risk of high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, they will likely encourage you to get your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis. Find out how to get your cholesterol levels checked.
Outlook for high cholesterol
If left untreated, high cholesterol can cause serious health problems and even death. However, treatment can help you manage this condition, and in many cases, it can help you avoid complications.
To learn if you have high cholesterol, ask your doctor to test your cholesterol levels. If they diagnose you with high cholesterol, ask them about your treatment options.
To lower your risk of complications from high cholesterol, practice healthy lifestyle habits and follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco products may help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It could also help lower your risk of complications from high cholesterol.