Medications To Treat High Cholesterol
For most people who need medication to manage high cholesterol, doctors will prescribe statins. Statins, also known as HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, are a class of drugs that prevent cholesterol from forming in the liver, where both LDL and HDL cholesterol are made. This lowers the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. They are most effective at lowering LDL cholesterol but can also lower triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.
If you have certain conditions, or if statins arent working to decrease your high cholesterol sufficiently, your doctor may prescribe one of these other cholesterol-lowering medications:
- PCSK9 Inhibitors A newer type of medicine, PCSK9 inhibitors bind to and inactivate a protein on certain liver cells, which then lowers LDL cholesterol. Administered by injection, they are often used in patients with high cholesterol that doesnt respond to statins or people with familial hypercholesterolemia.
- Selective Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors The most commonly used nonstatin agent, according to the AHA, selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. This means less cholesterol is delivered to the liver and, ultimately, the blood.
- Bile Acid Sequestrants Also known as bile-acid-binding agents, these drugs work by removing bile acids from the liver. Since LDL cholesterol is needed to make bile acids, the body then breaks down more LDL cholesterol particles.
How To Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
If you have high cholesterol as an adult or child there are many ways to lower your cholesterol and get your levels under control.
Essentially, you’ll want to take steps to lower your LDL and triglyceride levels while raising your HDL levels, says Steven Reisman, MD, a cardiologist and director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center. Here’s how to do it:
But Why Is My Cholesterol So High
High cholesterol happens when theres too much cholesterol in your blood the medical term for it is hypercholesterolemia. This condition affects almost 1 in 3 adults. Wow!
So, how does your blood get choked with this fat? Many of the potential causes of high cholesterol are lifestyle-related diet, exercise, and so on. But family history and other medical issues can influence your cholesterol too.
These vices and habits may increase your risk of high cholesterol:
- excessive drinking
- a diet high in saturated fat
- a diet high in trans fat
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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
How Is The Total Cholesterol Or Blood Cholesterol Test Done
A blood test is a routine test. A phlebotomist is a person whose job is to draw blood. Blood is usually drawn from the vein in your arm. You will sit down and the phlebotomist will wrap a rubber band around your upper arm so that the vein in your elbow sticks out. Then they will use a needle to puncture the vein and remove blood. The blood is sent to the lab to be examined.
Youve probably been at health fairs where testing is offered. In that case, the person performing the test takes a drop of blood from your finger. The finger-stick test uses a small blade to poke a hole in the tip of your finger to get the blood.
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Are There Foods That Actually Lower Cholesterol
Yes. A diet high in fibre may help lower LDL cholesterol levels significantly. But it has to be soluble fibre.
Oatmeal, oat bran, kidney beans, brussel sprouts, apples, pears, psyllium, barley and prunes all contain soluble fibre. Soluble fiber appears to reduce the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from the food you eat.
As well, walnuts and almonds also appear to help. Both are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and help keep blood vessels healthy and elastic. Both are also high in calories, so it doesn’t take much to do the trick. Too many nuts could lead to weight gain putting you at risk, once again, for developing high cholesterol levels.
Fish especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids also seem to help.
If diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, what treatments are available?
Your doctor will write you a prescription for one of a class of drugs called “statins.” First approved for use more than 20 years ago, statins lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Statins are the best selling medication in the world, with an international market worth about $30 billion a year.
But 60 per cent of patients who lower their LDL levels will still get heart disease.
How Is High Cholesterol Treated
There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol , including lifestyle changes or medication, or both. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine which therapy is best for you.
Healthcare providers like to start with the least invasive treatments when possible, such as lifestyle changes. Youll be advised to:
- Avoid tobacco. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways, and reducing your level of good cholesterol is one of them.
- Change the way you eat. Limit the number of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
- Get more exercise. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, or about 30 minutes per day for most days of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to do this. Youll see results even before you reach your ideal weight. Losing even 10% of your body weight makes a difference in your cholesterol levels.
- Reduce the effect of negative emotions. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress or other negative emotions.
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure. Make sure you follow your healthcare providers instructions for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, and for keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.
- Atorvastatin .
- Simvastatin .
- Pitavastatin .
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Cholesterol And Triglyceride Screening
Some health organizations recommend that everyone older than age 20 be checked for high cholesterol.
Some health organizations recommend that everyone age 20 and older be checked for high cholesterol.footnote 1 The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends cholesterol tests based on age and risk factors for heart disease. footnote 2
Talk to your doctor about when you should get a cholesterol test.
For more information, see When to Have a Cholesterol Test.
What Is A Healthy Cholesterol Level For Me
In general if you are 19 years old or younger, your total cholesterol levels should be less than 170 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
If you are 20 years old or older, your total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL.
These are general recommendations, so make sure to talk to your health care provider to find out whats considered healthy for you.
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Cholesterol Buster: Eat More Fiber
Diet changes offer a powerful way to fight high cholesterol. If you’ve ever wondered why some cereals claim to be heart-healthy, it’s the fiber. The soluble fiber found in many foods helps reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include whole-grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as kidney beans.
Testing Cholesterol At Home
Home cholesterol test kits are available at pharmacies or online and may seem like an easier option than going to the lab to get your blood drawn.
With these tests, only a small finger prick with a lancet is needed. A drop of blood is placed on a test strip and may be inserted in to a meter, and the result is available in a matter of minutes. It is quick and convenient. But is this the best way to test your cholesterol?
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Why Is It Important To Have A Normal Cholesterol Level
A high cholesterol level can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. You have an even higher risk if you also have other risk factors, such as:
Age over 45 for men and over 55 for women
High blood pressure
A history of heart disease in your father or a brother before he was 55 years of age or in your mother or a sister before she was 65 years of age
A low HDL cholesterol level
When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels
In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.
Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.
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Causes Of Eruptive Xanthomatosis
EX is a sign that you have too many fats or lipids in your blood. The extra fats leak out of your blood and collect in your skin.
High fats in your body might be genetic. Being overweight or obese can also cause excess fats in your body and blood.
Several conditions and infections can also lead to more fat in your body. These include:
Some medications can make your body store more fat, leading to EX. These include:
Diabetes raises blood sugar levels and stops your body from making or using insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that turns blood sugar into energy. It also helps your body burn fats instead of storing them. This is why people with diabetes or insulin problems are more likely to have high fat content.
EX bumps usually go away in a few weeks to months. Medical treatment and lifestyle changes can address the underlying cause resulting in high fat levels.
What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure
In addition to measuring the total cholesterol in your blood, the standard cholesterol test measures three specific kinds of fat:
- Low-density lipoproteins . This is the “bad cholesterol,” the main cause of plaque build-up, which increases your risk for heart disease. In general, the lower the number, the better. But LDL cholesterol is only one part of a larger equation that measures a personâs overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke. For years, guidelines focused on specific target numbers for individuals to achieve to lower their risk. The most recent guidelines focus on a personâs overall risk and, based on that risk, recommend a certain percentage of LDL reduction as one part of a strategy for preventing serious heart and vascular problems.
- High-density lipoproteins . This is the “good cholesterol.” It transports bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is excreted by the body. Your HDL is another part of the equation that identifies the risk of a cardiovascular event. In general, the higher the number the better, although, as with LDL, the emphasis has shifted from specific target numbers to strategies for reducing the overall risk.
- Triglycerides. Another type of fat in the bloodstream, triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. They are stored in fat cells throughout the body.
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What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels
The only way to know your cholesterol levels is through a blood test. You need to know your total cholesterol , as well as HDL and LDL. Triglycerides are another type of fat, related to, but different from cholesterol. High levels of triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. Here are what the numbers mean:
- Less than 200 is desirable
- Between 200 and 239 is borderline high
- From 240 up is considered high
- Less than 100 is optimal
- Between 100 and 129 is almost optimal
- Between 130 and 159 is borderline high
- Between 160 and 189 is considered high
- And 190 and above is deemed to be very high
- 60 and above is optimal
- Less than 40 for men is considered low
- Less than 50 for women is considered low
- Avoid full-fat dairy products. Instead, opt for skim milk, lower fat cheese, lower fat yogurt and trans-fat free spreads.
- Substitute heart healthy plant oils for butter and lard.
- Eat lean proteins: fish, skinless chicken, and lean meats. Avoid marbled meats and bacon.
- Body weight: Losing weight can help lower cholesterol. Regular exercise can increase HDL and lower LDL . Thirty minutes per day can have healthy benefits.
- Smoking: Dont do it.
- Age: As we all age, cholesterol rises.
- Gender: After menopause, women are at greater risk for higher cholesterol.
- Heredity : Your genes can determine how much cholesterol your liver produces.
- Diabetes: This disease can alter the balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol.
Maybe Shes Born With It
High cholesterol due to genetics is called familial hypercholesterolemia . People with FH are born with high cholesterol because their bodies cant process LDL correctly.
FH is one of the most common inherited diseases, affecting 1 in 220 adults. People with FH have a 13 times greater risk of heart disease. Untreated FH can result in chronically high cholesterol levels and heart disease.
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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.
Cholesterol Myths And Facts
Cholesterol can be confusing! Learn answers to common questions about blood cholesterol.
What do your cholesterol numbers mean? Can the foods you eat change your cholesterol levels?
Learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. Then commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
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What Are The Different Types Of Cholesterol
There are two types: high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . As a general rule, HDL is considered good cholesterol, while LDL is considered bad. This is because HDL carries cholesterol to your liver, where it can be removed from your bloodstream before it builds up in your arteries. LDL, on the other hand, takes cholesterol directly to your arteries. This can result in atherosclerosis, a plaque buildup that can even cause heart attack and stroke.
Triglycerides make up the third component of cholesterol and act as unused calories that are stored as fat in the blood. Eating more calories than you burn can cause triglycerides to build up in the bloodstream, increasing your risk for heart attacks.