HealthONE - May 14, 2018

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 78 million people over the age of 21 take cholesterol medication or are eligible for it. Yet little more than a third of people make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve cholesterol. This is significant because high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that can cause a stroke or heart attack.

While some patients implement either cholesterol medication or lifestyle changes, both are important for disease prevention. Discover a few simple lifestyle changes from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association that can be used in conjunction with cholesterol medication to help keep your heart healthy.

Clean Up Your Diet
When it comes to your diet, small changes can make a big impact on high cholesterol. Start by consuming less sweetened drinks, desserts and processed foods. Incremental changes like grabbing fast food once instead of two or three times a week can add up to help control high cholesterol. After you change a bad habit, work on one more. 

Stay Active
Along with diet, exercise can be a powerful cholesterol treatment. Recent studies show that cardiovascular exercise like jogging and biking can raise healthy HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol. Additionally, light- to moderate-intensity resistance training like weight lifting and body weight exercises carry similar, heart-healthy benefits.

Keep Your Weight in Check
A ratio of height compared to weight, body mass index (BMI) has a direct link to heart health. In fact, a recent study of more than 2,000 people showed a correlation between high BMI and high levels of cholesterol. A healthy diet and proper exercise can help control your BMI and keep it in a healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9.

Be Patient
It can take up to a year or more to see the full benefits of using lifestyle changes, medication or both to control your cholesterol, so be patient. Lipid-lowering medications like statins aren’t a quick fix, but long-term cholesterol treatment can lead to disease prevention and reduced mortality in high-risk patients.

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