High Cholesterol Treatment -- What Works?
Safe, effective treatment for high cholesterol isn't hard -- but it can be confusing. Get the facts.
Do Alternative High Cholesterol Treatments Work?
While lifestyle changes and medicines have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, the same can't always be said for many alternative treatments. Some of the various supplements and herbs that have been touted as high cholesterol treatments are garlic, policosanol, and guggul.
While a few studies of garlic have found a modest benefit, a recent study of policosanol found no effect. However, none of these studies have been large enough to be definitive, experts say.
Keep in mind that, unlike medications, herbal products are not regulated by the FDA. They are not evaluated to see if they work. They could also interact with other medicines you use.
"You just don't know what you're getting when you buy these products," says Wong. So if you want to take an alternative high cholesterol treatment, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Sticking to Your High Cholesterol Treatments
Many people find that their dedication to lowering their cholesterol fades over time. When they're first diagnosed, they're gung ho. They go on a diet and train like marathon runners. But after a few months, they get complacent. Their low-cholesterol cookbooks gather dust and their gym membership card lies in a sock drawer.
It is very easy to forget about high cholesterol. Even though it may still be doing damage, you can't feel it.
So how can you make healthy changes stick? The experts have some advice.
Get tested regularly. All adults need to be tested at least once every five years. People with high cholesterol or other risk factors may need to be tested once a year or more.
Know your numbers. "People need to know what the cholesterol numbers are and what their target numbers should be," says Sperling.
If you've been prescribed medicine, take it. It's easy to get lax about taking a daily medicine. So do what you can to remember. Use a weekly pill box or an alarm to help you remember.
Get help in making lifestyle changes. Changing the way you eat isn't easy -- you've probably developed some bad habits over the decades. But, unfortunately, Wong says that many doctors -- because they are so busy -- just don't give good guidance on this crucial part of treatment.
"Doctors might just tell a patient, 'Exercise more and eat less,'" Wong says. "But making these changes requires a lot more than vague advice."
So ask specific questions about what to do. If you find you're having trouble making changes to your habits, check back in with your doctor. If possible, Wong suggests having a few meetings with a dietician who can help guide you.