The goal in treating
high cholesterol is to reduce your chances of having a
heart attack or
The two types of treatment for high cholesterol are:
- Lifestyle changes, including healthy
eating, quitting smoking, losing extra weight, and
getting more active.
Your doctor may suggest that you make
one or more of the following changes:
- Build good eating habits. Your doctor may suggest that you follow a
cholesterol-lowering diet that cuts back on saturated fat while still allowing good fat such as olive and canola oils.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing just 5 lb to 10 lb (2.3 kg to 4.5 kg) can lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. Losing weight can also help lower your blood pressure.
- Get more active.Exercise can raise your HDL and may help you lose weight, if you need to.
- Stop smoking. If you smoke,
quitting will also help you raise your HDL.
For more information, see the section Making Lifestyle Changes.
Treating high cholesterol with medicine
Many people try lifestyle changes first. But if lifestyle changes aren't enough, you will need to take medicine too.
Some people need to start taking medicine right away because their risk of heart attack is higher than average.
Know your heart attack risk
Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
This interactive tool will tell you your
level of risk. Your doctor will base your need for medicine on your risk level.
After you use the tool, you can learn more about treatment for your risk level.
are considered at very high risk if you have coronary artery disease and you
also smoke or have diabetes,
acute coronary syndrome, or
Work with your doctor to treat other diseases that you
may have, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. And if you smoke, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
Take your medicine properly
Some people find it hard to take their
medicines properly. They may fit into one of these groups:
- "Why should I bother?" These people don't see why they should take medicines every day
when they don't feel sick.
- High cholesterol doesn't make you feel sick. But it's important to treat
it, because it damages your blood vessels and eventually your heart, even though you don't have symptoms.
- "I don't like the side effects." These people stop taking their medicines because they are
having side effects from the pills.
- If you're having side effects, tell your doctor. There are many kinds of
medicines you can try until you find one that works well with the fewest side effects.
- "I just can't keep track." Some people find it very hard to keep track of taking two or more
pills every day, especially if they need to take them at different times.
- Your doctor may be able to change your pill schedule to make it simpler. You can
also organize your pills with a pillbox that holds a week's worth of pills.
Some of these boxes have separate compartments for morning, noon, and bedtime
For more information, see:
If you have trouble taking your medicine for any reason, talk to your doctor.