Learn About Other Precautions To Help You Stay Safe While Taking Statins
Statins are the most common medicine used to treat high blood cholesterol. Learn some tips to stay safe if your doctor gives you statins.
- Keep taking your statin medicine as prescribed. If you started taking a statin after you recently had a heart attack, a stroke, or another complication, you should not stop taking this medicine on your own, because that can increase your risk for a repeat event or even death. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns about your medication or if you would like to stop or change to a different treatment.
- Ask your doctor what medicines, nutritional supplements, or foods you should avoid. Some of these can interact with statins to cause serious side effects or make them less effective. For example, grapefruit affects how your liver breaks down some statins.
- Tell your doctor about any symptoms or side effects. Sometimes, people report muscle problems while taking statins. If you start having muscle pain, your doctor may order a blood test to look for muscle damage. The pain may go away if you switch to a different statin. Muscle damage with statins is rare, and your muscles may heal when you switch to a different medicine.
- If you are a woman who is planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your options. You should stop taking statins about three months before getting pregnant. Also, you should not take statins if you are breastfeeding.
What Are The Different Types Of Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol:
- Bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: It transports cholesterol particles throughout the body. LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.
- Good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol: It picks up excess cholesterol from the blood vessels and takes it back to your liver.
Too much of the bad kind, or not enough of the good kind, increases the risk of plaque buildup in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. A plaque is found on the inner side of the large blood vessels. It is made of cholesterol, calcium, and blood products. It makes the lumen of these blood vessels narrow.
- Adults who have total cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL are considered healthy.
- If total cholesterol is between 200 and 239 mg/dL, it is borderline high.
- If total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL and above, it is considered high and harmful.
Bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein :
- LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.
- 100-129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but may be a concern for anyone with heart diseases or heart disease risk factors.
- 130-159 mg/dL is borderline high.
- 160 mg/dL and above is considered high and harmful.
Good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein :
- HDL levels should be kept higher. The optimal reading for HDL levels is 60 mg/dL or higher.
- If HDL is less than 40 mg/dL, it can be a major risk factor for heart diseases.
Make The Changes Worth Making
If you have high blood cholesterol, making lifestyle changes is a great first step to lower your risk of heart disease. If those steps dont reduce your risk enough, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.
Remember: Making even modest changes now can help to prevent significant medical issues later. Do all you can to reduce your risk for the serious effects of heart attack and stroke.
Recommended Reading: Does Shrimp Have High Cholesterol
Is Dietary Cholesterol Harmful
Research has shown that dietary cholesterol does not significantly impact cholesterol levels in your body, and data from population studies does not support an association between dietary cholesterol and heart disease in the general population .
Though dietary cholesterol can slightly impact cholesterol levels, this isnt an issue for most people.
In fact, two-thirds of the worlds population experience little or no increase in cholesterol levels after eating cholesterol-rich foods even in large amounts .
A small number of people are considered cholesterol non-compensators or hyper-responders and appear to be more vulnerable to high-cholesterol foods.
However, hyper-responders are thought to recycle extra cholesterol back to the liver for excretion .
Dietary cholesterol has also been shown to beneficially affect the LDL-to-HDL ratio, which is considered the best indicator of heart disease risk .
While research shows that its unnecessary for most people to avoid dietary cholesterol, keep in mind that not all cholesterol-containing foods are healthy.
Here are 7 healthy high-cholesterol foods and 4 to avoid.
Here are 7 high-cholesterol foods that are incredibly nutritious.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. If you take medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Recommended Reading: Is Mayo Bad For Cholesterol
How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
A cholesterol blood test gives important information about the amount and types of fats in the bloodstream. Types of fats include cholesterol and triglycerides.
Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in your body. Triglycerides are produced by your body and also come from the food you eat. When you eat, your body converts unused calories into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells and are released for energy in between meals.
If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, this may lead to high levels of triglycerides. If the levels of triglycerides in your blood are too high, they can affect your blood cholesterol levels.
Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
Don’t Miss: Does Tuna Have Good Or Bad Cholesterol
Getting Your Cholesterol Levels Checked
If youre age 20 years or older, the American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol levels checked at least once every four to six years. If you have a history of high cholesterol or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may encourage you get your cholesterol levels tested more often.
Your doctor can use a lipid panel to measure your total cholesterol level, as well your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Your total cholesterol level is the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood. It includes LDL and HDL cholesterol.
If your levels of total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol are too high, your doctor will diagnose you with high cholesterol. High cholesterol is especially dangerous when your LDL levels are too high and your HDL levels are too low. Find out more about your recommended cholesterol levels.
Bloating And Digestive Issues
The main reason for increased cholesterol levels is overeating fatty and fried food affects our liver and produces bad cholesterol in the body. If you are facing high cholesterol, then you may feel bloated even after eating significantly less.
Your stomach makes you feel heaviness and disinterest in appetite. The excess flow of lipid substance directly affects the metabolism and triggers the digestive system in your body, and you feel bloating and heaviness.
If you are constantly feeling these issues, then you must go for a lipid profile test.
You May Like: How Much Cholesterol In Canned Tuna
Recent Guidelines For Normal Cholesterol Levels
Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly, including some LDL. But if your LDL levels are too high, it can raise your risk of serious health problems.
In 2013, the American College of Cardiologists and the American Heart Association developed new guidelines for the treatment of high cholesterol.
Before this change, doctors would manage cholesterol based on numbers in a cholesterol levels chart. Your doctor would measure your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. They would then decide whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication based on how your numbers compared to the numbers in the chart.
Under the new guidelines, in addition to your cholesterol levels, treatment recommendations consider other risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include diabetes and the estimated 10-year risk for a cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke. So what your normal cholesterol levels are depends on whether you have other risk factors for heart disease.
These new guidelines recommend that if you dont have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor should prescribe treatment if your LDL is greater than 189 mg/dL. To find out what your personal cholesterol recommendations are, talk to your doctor.
With the changes mentioned above in the treatment guidelines for high cholesterol, cholesterol charts are no longer considered the best way for doctors to gauge the management of cholesterol levels in adults.
Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.
Don’t Miss: Does Shrimp Have High Cholesterol
So Should You Be Worried If Your Cholesterol Is Elevated
If your cholesterol is high, you need to find the reason.
As I mentioned, the vast majority of cholesterol in your body was made in your liver. Cholesterol production increases when the body is under stress: emotional stress can cause elevated cholesterol because the stress hormone cortisol is made out of cholesterol. Physical stress on the body can also elevate cholesterol. Because cholesterol helps to repair and heal your body, you will produce more if there is a great deal of inflammation occurring in your body. So all those factors above that raise inflammation, can raise your cholesterol too.
Therefore the cure for elevated cholesterol can be quite simple lower the inflammation and youll also lower the cholesterol.
Other factors that may cause elevated cholesterol include:
We do need some cholesterol in our bodies for good health you dont want your cholesterol to be too low but you dont want it too high either. However, its important to remember that high cholesterol is not the cause of your health problems it is simply a clue that something is not quite right with your health, and its likely that the real problem is too much inflammation.
For more information see our book Cholesterol: The Real Truth.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
Diet Rich In Saturated Fats And Trans Fats: Most Common Cause
An unhealthy diet is the most common cause of having high cholesterol readings. Foods that contain saturated fats and trans fat are the main culprits.
Trans fat foods not only raise your LDL but also lower your HDL, the good cholesterol. That makes it the worst food you can eat vis-à-vis cholesterol.
Saturated fats are found in :
- Dairy foods such as butter, cheese, sour cream, ghee, full-fat milk and ice cream
- Red Meat such as fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb organ meat, processed meats like salami and sausages and the skin on chicken
- Certain cooking oils like palm oil
- Seafood like prawns and lobster
Trans fats are found in :
- Cakes, pies, and cookies
- Packed wafers
The American Heart Association recommends that you replace foods containing saturated fats and trans fats with foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Recommended Reading: How Much Cholesterol In Pork Chops
You Experience Leg Pain While Exercising
If you experience a burning pain or feel like your legs are tired or heavy it may indicate poor blood flow to your legs, which could be related to high cholesterol. Pain may impact one or both legs, as well as any part of the leg from the calf to your buttocks. Most of the time the pain subsides with rest but then reoccurs when you do the same level of activity again, such as walking two blocks.
What Causes Inflammation And How Is It Relevant To Cholesterol
The following factors all raise the level of inflammation in your body:
- Being overweight
- Deficiency of omega 3 fats in the diet
- Lack of fresh vegetables in the diet
- Food allergy or intolerance
- Diets high in sugar, alcohol, gluten and omega 6 fats
In most people, the overwhelming cause of excessive inflammation in their body is poor diet choices.
Sugar, flour and vegetable oil high in omega 6 fats all cause wear and tear to your body. Having a fatty liver causes the liver to produce high levels of damaging inflammatory chemicals.
Inflammation damages the lining of your arteries. It actually causes wear and tear to the once smooth inner lining of artery walls. Once youve developed lesions in your arteries, the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes along and tries to repair this damage.
Cholesterol has a vital role in healing and repair of tissues in your body. The problem is, cholesterol can accumulate in your arteries, causing them to narrow and thus restricting blood flow. Cholesterol is not the initiating factor in artery damage it is only serving a protective and healing role.
Don’t Miss: Cholesterol Lowering Foods Mayo Clinic
Family History And Genetics
Family members usually have similar cholesterol levels. This suggests that your genes can raise your risk of having unhealthy cholesterol levels.
In addition, your genes may raise your risk for another type of bad cholesterol. High levels of lipoprotein-a, also called Lp, may mean you are at high risk of heart or blood vessel diseases, even if your other cholesterol levels are healthy. Genes determine how much Lp you have. Your Lp level is unlikely to change much from childhood to old age.
Lp is not usually part of a routine lipid panel. Your doctor may order an Lp test if you have a family history of early heart or blood vessel disease, such as heart attack, or do not know your family medical history. If you have a high Lp level, your doctor may prescribe a statin to prevent heart and blood vessel disease, even if your other cholesterol levels are in the healthy range.
Causes Of High Cholesterol
A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.
Reducing the intake of fat in the diet helps to manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:
- Cholesterol: This is present in animal foods, meat, and cheese.
- Saturated fat: This occurs in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.
- Trans fats: This occurs in some fried and processed foods.
Excess weight or obesity can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetic factors can contribute to high cholesterol. People with the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia have very high LDL levels.
Other conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include:
In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered healthy.
- A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high.
- A reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.
- 100129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but may be a concern for anyone with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.
- 130159 mg/dL is borderline high.
- 160189 mg/dL is high.
- 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- eat a heart-healthy diet
- achieve and maintain a healthy weight
You May Like: Bone Broth High Cholesterol
Signs Symptoms And Complications
High bad LDL cholesterol usually does not cause symptoms, so most people do not know they have it until they are tested during a routine doctors visit. Very high levels may cause symptoms such as fatty bumps on your skin, called xanthomas, or grayish-white rings around the corneas in your eye, called corneal arcus. These mostly develop in people who have familial hypercholesterolemia.
Undiagnosed or untreated high blood cholesterol can lead to serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke.
How Can You Lower Cholesterol Levels
Luckily, there are some things you can do to lower your health risks of high cholesterol.
- Diet changes: Theres more to cholesterol than whats in your food. Components of a healthy diet, especially fiber, can have modest effects on cholesterol levels, explains Dr. Gaesser. Fiber such as oatmeal or bran reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream and can reduce LDL levels.
- Exercise: While it wont really make big improvements to your total cholesterol, according to Dr. Gaesser, it can help raise your HDL and lower your LDL.
- Lose weight: Even a 5% to 10% weight loss can have positive effects on high cholesterol.
- Consider quitting smoking: Quitting smoking can raise your HDL and decrease the risk for other heart conditions.
- Statin medications: Sometimes diet and exercise arent enough to make the necessary changes. In that case, medications called statins help decrease your cholesterol as well as lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
The takeaway: Use of statins will not work effectively if your lifestyle is poor, Dr. Adeyemi cautions. Statins and lifestyle changes often need to be done together to have the best results.
You May Like: Is Shrimp Bad For Your Cholesterol