What Other Medications Treat High Cholesterol
Bile acid sequestrants: These drugs bind with cholesterol-containing bile acids in the intestines and allow them to be eliminated in the stool. Bile acid sequestrants may lower LDL cholesterol by a significant amount. Bile acid sequestrants are sometimes prescribed with a statin to enhance cholesterol reduction.
- Cholestyramine , colestipol , and colesevelam are the three bile acid sequestrants currently available. These three drugs are available as powders or tablets and are not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
- Bile acid sequestrant powders must be mixed with water or fruit juice and are taken once or twice daily with meals. Tablets must be taken with large amounts of fluids to avoid stomach and intestinal complaints including constipation, bloating, nausea, and gas.
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: These drugs inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut and has few, if any, side effects. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors may be rarely associated with tongue swelling . Ezetimibe reduces LDL cholesterol by a significant amount. It is probably most useful in people who cannot tolerate taking statins. When used in addition to a statin, ezetimibe is equivalent to doubling or tripling the statin dose.
Nicotinic acid or niacin: Nicotinic acid lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
Fibrates: These cholesterol-lowering drugs are effective in lowering triglycerides.
What Complications Are Possible If You Dont Treat High Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood
The main reason to treat high cholesterol is to prevent or treat coronary heart disease , also called coronary artery disease or CAD. CHD happens when heart is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to function well and kills more people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. CHD usually refers to the large arteries, but there is also a condition called coronary microvascular disease that affects the small vessels and causes damage.
Cholesterol Testing At Home: It May Be Faster But Is It Better
If you don’t mind pricking a finger, you can check your cholesterol without sitting around in a doctor’s waiting room or laboratory. Devices available in pharmacies or through the Internet make this easy to do at home. But is it worth doing?
The makers of home cholesterol tests rightly tout their products as faster than visiting a doctor. You prick your finger, gently squeeze a few drops of blood onto a test strip or into a small “well,” and you get the results in a few minutes, instead of waiting a few days.
But faster isn’t necessarily better. The results won’t give you the information you need to figure out your risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem. Nor will they help you check whether a diet and exercise program is working.
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What About Type 1 Diabetes
For decreasing cardiovascular risk in Type 1 diabetes, blood glucose control seems to make the greatest difference. Having a blood glucose in your target range will get a person with Type 1 diabetes very close to normal as far as cholesterol levels are concerned. People with Type 1 diabetes that is not managed well have increased triglycerides and also they have lower HDL-C, or good cholesterol. These two things contribute to cardiovascular disease in Type 1 diabetics.
British Columbia Specific Information
What you eat is important to the health of your heart. Heart healthy eating can help you prevent and/or manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart failure. For information on heart healthy eating and nutrition, see Healthy Eating Heart Health. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian, Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.
For additional information on heart healthy eating and living, visit the BC Heart and Stroke Foundation.
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Take Your Medicines Properly
Some people find it hard to take their medicines properly. If you do take medicine, it is important to use it the right way.
Some people don’t see why they should take medicines every day when they don’t feel sick. Cholesterol doesn’t make you feel sick. But it’s important to take your statin medicine, because it can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Some side effects are more likely and may be worse when you use higher doses of statins. If you’re having side effects, tell your doctor. You may be able to take a different statin.
For more information, see:
Be sure to tell your doctor everything you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicine, and natural health products. Sometimes they can interact with other medicines and cause problems.
If you have trouble taking your medicine for any reason, talk to your doctor.
Fasting And Cholesterol Tests
For many years, fasting prior to cholesterol tests was recommended in every case. However, increasingly, doctors are reconsidering this recommendation. Research suggests that food intake doesnt affect the accuracy of measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL.
That said, food before a test can elevate triglyceride levels, so accuracy there does require fasting. Prior to your test, double-check with your doctor about how best to prepare.
Cholesterol tests provide a broader glimpse of your health status. You cant really affect results without making significant, long-term dietary or lifestyle changes . As such, behaviors like steering clear of foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat within a couple of days of your lipid profile wont really affect results.
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What Foods Or Supplements Have Natural Cholesterol Lowering Properties
There are a number of supplements that people use to lower LDL-C and triglycerides. Make sure to talk with your health care provider about which ones are safe for you to try. Some listed are proven to reduce cholesterol, and some have not been proven to lower cholesterol. Its important to have a conversation with your doctor if you decide to start any new supplements.
What Are Common Challenges To Lowering Ldl
You and your doctor have probably discussed changing your diet and increasing exercise to help lower bad cholesterol
Even after the best efforts at making these lifestyle changes, many people still struggle to lower their bad cholesterol enough. This is because in some people, genetics plays a role in determining high bad cholesterol
Sticking to treatment
Your doctor may have prescribed medicine for you to take every day to lower bad cholesterol . However, it can sometimes be difficult to stick to a daily treatment. Some common treatment challenges are:
Side effects like muscle aches can prevent some people from continuing treatment or staying on high doses of statins
Difficulty remembering to take their medicine every day can also prevent people from staying on treatment
After having these experiences, some may stop taking their medicine altogether out of frustration. It is important to speak to your doctor about any side effects or treatment challenges.
Accessing other treatments
Some other treatments used for managing high LDL-C may be expensive or have insurance challenges
The inability to get medicines other than statins can prevent some people from being able to properly manage ASCVD and high bad cholesterol
Social and environmental factors
Factors such as income, education, and community resources can all play a role in and influence how well people are able to make lifestyle changes, follow treatment plans, and access medication and care
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How Is A Cholesterol Test Performed
To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will need to get a sample of your blood. You will probably have your blood drawn in the morning, sometimes after fasting since the night before.
A blood test is an outpatient procedure. It takes only a few minutes and is relatively painless. Its usually performed at a diagnostic lab. In some cases, it can also be performed during a regular doctor visit, at a local pharmacy, or even at home. Walk-in clinic rates can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. Cholesterol testing at a local pharmacy can cost $5 to $25. An at-home test can cost anywhere from $15 to $25, while tests that need to be shipped to a lab can average $75 to $200.
There are very few risks associated with having your blood drawn for a cholesterol test. You may feel slightly faint or have some soreness or pain at the site where your blood was drawn. Theres also a very slight risk of infection at the puncture site.
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. Ideal results for most adults are:
- LDL: 70 to 130 mg/dL
- HDL: more than 40 to 60 mg/dL
- total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
- triglycerides: 10 to 150 mg/dL
Soluble Versus Insoluble Fiber
Foods such as whole wheat bread and whole grain cereal have insoluble fiber. This is great for decreasing constipation, but doesnt do much to lower cholesterol numbers. Fiber found in thinks like oats and oat products, dried peas and beans, such as lentils or chickpeas, barley, flaxseed and nuts, as well a brussel sprouts and prunes, oranges, and apples have something called soluble fiber. This kind of fiber is great to help lower LDL-C or bad cholesterol by piggy backing it out through the gut. In other words, it grabs the bad cholesterol, and moves it on out of the body.
In order to lower LDL-C with soluble fiber foods, you need to be eating between 7 and 13 grams of it in a day. The rest you should get from insoluble fiber, so that you are getting a total of 20-35 grams per day of total fiber. This could get you up to seven percent LDL-C lowering, and a two to three percent total cholesterol reduction. And thats not too shabby, so best to increase fiber in your diet when you have high cholesterol.
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How Often Should Cholesterol Be Checked
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years as long as their risk remains low. After age 40, your health care professional will also want to use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
People with cardiovascular disease, and those at elevated risk, may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often.
Your doctor will explain what your cholesterol levels mean and can discuss treatment options if your numbers are not where they should be.
What In The World Is Red Yeast Rice
Weird as it sounds red yeast rice is a fungus that grows on rice. Asian countries use it for a food coloring and a medication. It has become popular in western countries because it tends to stop cholesterol production in the liver. It has sort of a natural form of statin in it, like the statin medications used to lower cholesterol. If you are one of the people that has trouble taking statins due to side effects, or dont want to take them for one reason or another, ask your doctor if red yeast rice might help you lower your cholesterol.
In one study, subjects that got muscular pain while on statins were able to take 1800 mg of red yeast rice twice a day for 24 weeks. The average drop in LDL-C was 35 mg/dl. In China, one study showed a 30 percent reduction in cardiovascular risk with long term use of red yeast rice. In the US, its a supplement so its not FDA regulated. Keep that in mind when taking any supplements in the US.
Always talk with your doctor, and have him or her to check your liver enzymes before starting red yeast rice supplements.
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Recognizing Signs And Symptoms
What Happens During The Cholesterol Test And Check Up
The service will be delivered in the consultation room, the pharmacy colleague will check that you are eligible for the service. You will also be asked questions about your lifestyle, including:
- Whether you smoke
- Your alcohol consumption
- Your activity levels
The results of your check-up will be available immediately, and you will receive a personalised action plan highlighting the simple steps you can take to keep your heart and cholesterol levels healthy, such as:
- Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat
- Reaching a healthy weight
- Having a medicines check-up if you are taking any new medication for any other condition
You may then be asked to attend a follow-up appointment to assess your progress against your action plan. If appropriate, you may be referred to your GP.
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What Do Your Cholesterol Results Mean
When you have a cholesterol test, it is really important that your healthcare professional explains the results to you to prevent unnecessary worry and confusion.
Its not just your total cholesterol thats important and your results will include different types of cholesterol. If you are only given your total cholesterol, ask for a break-down of the other numbers. Its possible to have a healthy total cholesterol number but an unhealthy balance of the different types of cholesterol.
As a minimum, you should be given your total cholesterol and HDL numbers, then you can work out your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol .
You might also have your triglycerides tested, these are another type of blood fat which are linked to heart disease.
Ask for a print out of your results if you are not able to speak to your GP, nurse or pharmacist.
Your results should include:
- Total cholesterol
This is sometimes written as ‘serum cholesterol’ or ‘TC’ and refers to your overall level of cholesterol.
- Non-HDL cholesterol
Your non-HDL cholesterol is your total cholesterol minus your HDL cholesterol. Its all the ‘bad’ cholesterol added together, including your LDL cholesterol. Ideally it should be as low as possible.
- HDL cholesterol
- TC:HDL ratio
You might be given a TC:HDL ratio, which is the ratio of HDL compared to the total cholesterol. If not, you can work it out from your HDL and total cholesterol numbers. This should be as low as possible. Above 6 is considered high.
How Can High/bad Cholesterol Be Prevented In Diabetes
With lifestyle changes and intensive statin therapy, we can significantly affect the rate of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. Even with LDL-C levels at borderline high and not greater than 160 mg/dl in most diabetics, these borderline numbers have been shown to significantly affect heart health in people with diabetes.
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Can You Check Cholesterol Without A Blood Test
During a cholesterol test procedure, a blood sample will have to be taken from a vein in your arm.
To do so, a tourniquet is tied around your arm just above the elbow. A needle is then inserted into a vein in your arm near the inside of your elbow. Once the needle is positioned, a small amount of blood is withdrawn and collected in a vial or a syringe.
After the blood is collected, the needle is removed from the vein, and the tourniquet is removed from your arm. A small cotton ball is pressed over the puncture site to stop any bleeding. A Band-Aid may be placed to protect clothing should a small amount of blood leak out of the puncture site.
How long does a cholesterol take?
Having blood tests drawn takes only a few minutes.
Does a cholesterol test hurt?
Blood tests cause a minimal amount of discomfort. Some people do have anxiety about having blood drawn and it may be worse than the pain of the procedure.
Are Test Results Accurate
Cholesterol testing is widely regarded as reliable. Although no test is perfect, laboratories follow strict protocols that help standardize cholesterol tests and make their results dependable. When these procedures and pre-test instructions are followed, inaccurate results are unlikely.
Point-of-care and at-home cholesterol tests are relatively accurate but are subject to more variation than laboratory testing. If abnormal results are found on one of these tests, follow-up testing by a laboratory is commonly recommended.
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What Kind Of Test Measures Cholesterol
Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every five years. Your healthcare provider will order a blood test that will indicate how much cholesterol is carried in your bloodstream. This test will give your cholesterol levels. Your provider might also order what is called a lipid panel or a lipid profile. The panel gives you the following numbers:
- Total cholesterol.
- Non-HDL cholesterol.
- Ratio between cholesterol and HDL.
There are advanced tests that break down the size and shapes of LDL cholesterol levels, and also give the LDL particle number, but those are not normally ordered. Some test makers say that the more advanced tests are better at indicating who is at risk for heart disease, but most providers still feel that the usual tests are adequate.