Your Health & Wellness Guide to High Cholesterol

We need cholesterol to build tissue and function normally. But if the amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood gets too high and begins building up in the arteries, it can slow blood flow on its way to the heart and brain—and make our heart work harder than it is normally used to. The good news is: making better-for-you lifestyle changes can typically lower cholesterol. Learn how to get accessible testing and treatment at CVS® HealthHUB® locations and what you can do to help lower your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke if you or your loved one have high cholesterol or might be at risk.

Help Balance Your Diet 

Our liver produces cholesterol. You can also find cholesterol in foods like meat and dairy. So if we intake too much dietary cholesterol, our levels can spike. You may want to avoid overconsuming foods with “bad fats”—saturated and trans fat—like animal products (red meats and dairy products made with whole milk) and oils found in certain baked goods. Instead, eating heart-healthy and high-fiber fruits, veggies, lean meats and fish, whole grains and nuts may be helpful in a cholesterol-lowering diet.

Consider the Biggest Risks
A heart attack or stroke can happen when a blood clot gets trapped in a narrowed artery. You may be at greater risk if you: 
  • Drink alcohol frequently
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease

High cholesterol can be undetectable with no visible symptoms, so it’s important to get checked if you or your family member has an existing condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or certain thyroid issues.

Screen Regularly

Annual cholesterol testing is recommended for patients with greater risk for or diagnosis of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Schedule an appointment at MinuteClinic®, where you’ll be able to get test results and a treatment plan, including medication, if necessary. If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, your MinuteClinic provider can help monitor your condition in between doctor’s appointments, and, with your permission, share details of your visit with your primary care provider.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can have adverse effects on your body’s cholesterol levels. Quitting your smoking habit can help improve your body’s regulation of cholesterol and help decrease your risk of coronary heart disease.

Get Fit 

We have two types of cholesterol, good and bad. HDL cholesterol is the helpful cholesterol that clears the bad type of cholesterol from the arteries. When you don’t exercise, you may have less good cholesterol to aid your circulatory system. Adding just 20-25 minutes of cardio-based exercise to each day may help lower your bad cholesterol level (and your blood pressure, too). If you miss your daily physical activity, don’t be discouraged. You can start with a few days a week and keep going to work up to the daily exercise goal.

Monitor for Complications 

With diligent monitoring of your condition, complications linked to high cholesterol can be controllable and even preventable. If you know your cholesterol level and can keep it under control with the help of your professional care team, you can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.