Myth: I Dont Need Statins Or Other Medicines For My Cholesterol I Can Manage My Cholesterol With Diet And Exercise
Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Guidelinesexternal icon also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.2
People who may need statins or other medicines to manage cholesterol levels include the following:
- People with familial hypercholesterolemia or people with very high levels of bad cholesterol. FH is a genetic condition that causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age. If left untreated, cholesterol levels will continue to get worse. This greatly raises the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke at a young age.
- People with cardiovascular disease . People with CVD may already have narrowed arteries because of too much plaque. Medicines that lower cholesterol may help reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.
- People with diabetes.Type 2 diabetes lowers HDL or good cholesterol levels and raises bad cholesterol levels. This combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Other groups of people may also need medicines to manage their cholesterol, including people who have a high risk for CVD. Always talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your cholesterol.
How Long Does It Take To Reduce Cholesterol
Cholesterol drops over time, not suddenly, after a few days of healthier living. There is no set period in which cholesterol is guaranteed to drop.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs usually produce a change in LDL within 6 to 8 weeks. It is possible for lifestyle changes to change cholesterol levels within weeks. However, it may take longer,
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 milligrams per deciliter
- LDL bad cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL good cholesterol: higher than 60 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL
According to an article in the journal Circulation, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend using statins to lower cholesterol in people with cholesterol higher outside of these levels.
However, they also recommend doctors consider a persons cholesterol levels and overall risk of cardiovascular disease before prescribing a cholesterol-lowering medication.
The AHA recommends that people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease get high-intensity statin therapy maximally tolerated statin therapy to lower LDL by at least 50%.
The AHA also recommends high-intensity statin therapy for individuals with severe primary hypercholesterolemia .
There are a number of habit changes a person can incorporate into their daily routines in order to gradually and consistently lower their LDL levels over time. Including:
How Quickly Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels may lower as quickly as a few weeks to a few months, depending on your treatment plan.
If your levels are very high, your healthcare provider may recommend taking medications at the start of your treatment plan. This may help lower your cholesterol levels more quickly. The sooner you can lower your bad cholesterol levels, the sooner you can lower your risk for plaques to form.
You can also lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and diet changes alone, but it may take three to six months to see results. Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
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Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.
What Does The Term Total Cholesterol Mean
The term total cholesterol refers to the total amount of the different kinds of cholesterol in your blood. One kind of cholesterol is the LDL cholesterol. Another kind is the HDL cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. LDL is the bad cholesterol. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL is the good cholesterol.
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Can Garlic Lower Your Cholesterol
Garlic is a plant closely related to the leek and the onion. Known for its distinctive odor, it has also been designated the name the stinking rose.” It is mostly known for the flavor it adds to a variety of foods.
Additionally, garlic contains the chemical allicin, which has been shown to kill bacteria and fungi and alleviate certain digestive disorders. It also lowers the clotting properties of blood. But the most notable attention garlic has received over recent years is its possible usefulness in lowering cholesterol levels.
Maintain A Moderate Weight
Maintaining or achieving a moderate weight that is within the BMI range recommended by doctors can help lower cholesterol, while also reducing other heart disease risks.
A person should focus on achieving and maintaining a moderate weight with a combination of healthy eating and lots of physical activity, as both of these can also lower cholesterol.
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How Long Does It Take To Reduce Cholesterol Levels
How long it takes to lower your cholesterol can vary, but changing your numbers over a six-month time period is a realistic goal, Grace Derocha, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Why? Six months gives your body time to process excess cholesterol and for you to form healthy habits that can help lower and prevent high cholesterol, she says.
Lifestyle Changes To Improve Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance in your body. Your body uses it to protect nerves, make cell tissues, and produce certain hormones. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But you also get cholesterol directly from food you eat. Common sources include eggs, meats, and dairy products. This can add too much cholesterol into your body. If this happens, you may have high cholesterol. That can have negative effects on your health. Luckily, there are lifestyle changes you can make to improve your cholesterol.
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Will Exercise Help My Cholesterol Levels
There are three main cholesterol levels doctors monitor: triglycerides, HDL and LDL.
Exercise has the greatest effect on triglycerides by lowering them, and on HDL, the good cholesterol, by increasing it.
Exercise does not have much impact on LDL, the bad cholesterol unless combined with dietary changes and weight loss.
Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Do not engage in any activity that causes chest pain, excessive shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness. Stop immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
How Can Foods Help Lower Cholesterol
People can often reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterolfound in meat, dairy products, and eggsraise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk. Foods high in saturated fat are especially dangerous because they can trigger the body to produce extra cholesterol.
Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.
It is important to continue to work closely with your health care provider to monitor your health and manage medications, even as you make dietary changes.
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Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
Misconception: Only Men Need To Worry About Cholesterol
Both men and women tend to see higher triglyceride and cholesterol levels as they get older. Although atherosclerosis typically occurs later in women than men, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in women. Weight gain also contributes to higher levels.
Premenopausal women may have some protection from high LDL levels of cholesterol, compared to men. Thats because the female hormone estrogen is highest during the childbearing years and it tends to raise HDL cholesterol levels. This may help explain why premenopausal women are usually protected from developing heart disease.
But cholesterol levels can still rise in postmenopausal women, despite a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity. So women nearing menopause should have their cholesterol levels checked and talk with their doctor about their risk factors and treatment options.
At one time, it was thought that hormone replacement therapy might lower a womans risk of heart disease and stroke. But studies have shown that HRT doesn’t reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in postmenopausal women. The American Heart Association doesn’t endorse HRT as a means to lower cardiovascular risks.
Doctors should consider women-specific conditions, such as premature menopause and pregnancy-associated conditions, when discussing their cholesterol levels and potential treatment options.
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You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
Are Eggs Bad For Cholesterol
Much of the confusion around eggs has stemmed from the fact that egg yolks contain cholesterol. While egg yolks are high in cholesterol and are a major source of dietary cholesterol, it is saturated fatty acids that have a greater effect on our blood cholesterol levels and, therefore, heart disease risk.
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Our Enormous High Cholesterol Problem
Coronary artery disease is often the consequence of many other diseases, problems, or lifestyles termed risk factors:
Most of these are preventable.
If you have a genetic tendency towards coronary artery disease, with parents or siblings who developed it early in life, the disease can occur without many risk factors. But even in these cases, it accelerates quickly in the presence of risk factors.
Of all the coronary artery disease risk factors, high cholesterol is a particularly big problem in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 71 million U.S. adults have high cholesterol. That’s one third of our adult population.
Yet less than half of people with high cholesterol seek treatment for it, the CDC notes. What’s more, when treatment is pursued, only one in three adults have their cholesterol adequately treated.
High Cholesterol Treatment
The most common treatment for high cholesterol, particularly after heart disease has developed, is a statin. This type of drug comes with benefits and risks. Statins inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme in our bodies that is used to make cholesterol. Some examples of statin drugs are Zocor , Lipitor , Crestor , and Pravachol . These drugs have side effects that include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, and nausea. You can also have rare severe sides effects such as inflammation and injury of the liver and muscles.
What will happen to my cholesterol if I change my diet?
Does Garlic Actually Work
Garlic is one of the most widely purchased herbal supplements used to lower cholesterol levels. Research studies involving both animals and humans suggest that garlic can lower cholesterol levels. In most of the studies that produced cholesterol-lowering results, about one-half gram or one gram of garlic was consumed a day. LDL cholesterol levels were very modestly lowered whereas HDL cholesterol was not affected by the administration of garlic.
The cholesterol-lowering abilities of garlic appear to be dose-dependent. That is, the more garlic you take, the lower your cholesterol will drop. In the very few studies that looked at the long-term effects of cholesterol, it appears that the cholesterol-lowering effect of garlic may be only temporary.
Additionally, there is some debate as to which form of garlic is the best in lowering cholesterol levels. Some studies suggest that garlic powder may have lower amounts of allicin, one of the active ingredients in garlic. This, too, remains under debate.
It’s important to note that the studies are very conflicting. While there are many that conclude garlic works well to lower cholesterol levels, there are also others that dispute this, contending garlic is ineffective in lowering cholesterol. Until more studies are conducted, garlic may not be the best choice for you if you’re solely relying on it to lower your cholesterol.
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Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
How Long For Cholesterol Count To Go Down After Eating Fatty Food
While a blood test to determine your cholesterol level can be done anytime, for the most accurate results it is best to fast. Different foods such as fatty foods have varying effects on cholesterol levels and if you test too close to eating, you may not get accurate results. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels and preparing for a test, your physician will tell you what foods to avoid and how long you should fast for.
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Medication Might Be Necessary
For some people, diet and lifestyle changes might not result in quick HDL increases. Heredity and genetic mutations can interfere with HDL increases from diet and lifestyle changes alone. For individuals unable to raise HDL by eating better and making other healthy changes, a physician might prescribe medication, which can make HDL go up more quickly. For example, prescription niacin, statins and fibrates can each have a positive impact on HDL levels, according to the article in “Circulation.” Always speak to your doctor before taking any type of medication or supplement to raise your HDL levels, however, to avoid potentially dangerous side effects.
Cholesterol Benefits Of Vegetarian Diets
An October 2015 analysis in the Journal of the American Heart Association examined how a strict vegetarian diet affects cholesterol levels in people with heart disease or risk factors of heart disease. This report summarized 11 prior studies in what is called a meta-analysis. The studies included were from the United States, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Australia. In all the studies, people were randomized to receive a vegetarian diet versus a diet that included meat. The average age of the people in these studies ranged from 28 to 54. In three studies, people had already tried a medication to lower their cholesterol.
The most commonly studied vegetarian diet was a vegan diet in which both meat and diary products are avoided. The second most common diet studied was a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet that primarily avoids meats . In all studies these diets were compared to an omnivorous diet of plant and animal products. The cholesterol levels in these patients were studied up to 74 months.
Here is a summary of what the researchers found about people’s cholesterol on a vegetarian diet:
- Total cholesterol was reduced by 13.9 mg/dL
- LDL was reduced by 13.1 mg/dL
- HDL was reduced by 3.9 mg/dL
- Triglycerides levels were similar in nearly all studies regardless of diet
In addition, people on a vegetarian diet were more likely to lose weight by an average of 2.9 kg .
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What Is ‘bad’ Cholesterol
Whilst cholesterol is seen as the enemy of a healthy diet, we actually need the fatty substance to stay healthy. “It’s needed to make cell membranes, various hormones, certain vitamins and bile salts which are important for the digestion of fat,” explains Garton.
The problem comes when there are high levels of cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia. The risk increases the longer the higher cholesterol is left untreated.
There are actually two main types of cholesterol involved: low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein .
“LDL is the main carrier of cholesterol in the blood and is often called ‘bad’ cholesterol because too much LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries and cause narrowing,” says Garton. “HDL is often called ‘good’ as it picks up excess cholesterol from the arteries and takes it back to the liver where it can be removed from the circulation. As well as LDL cholesterol, other non-HDL cholesterol is considered ‘bad’ as it can also contribute to fatty build-up in the arteries.
“The ideal situation is to have low non-HDL cholesterol. It’s also important that your HDL cholesterol does not drop too low.”