Can High Cholesterol Be Reversed
For most people, its actually very easy to lower cholesterolin theory. In practice, its a little more challenging and complex. Some risk factors for high cholesterol you cant control include genetics, age, sex, family history, race, and ethnicity. But aside from genetics, those are the least important risk factors for high cholesterol.
In fact, modifying certain behaviors is the number-one way to lower your cholesterol quickly and naturally. And if you have co-occurring conditions, like high blood pressure or diabeteswell, modifying these exact same behaviors is the number-one way to improve those, too.
The science is clear, and your doctor will be very clear, too: In order to reduce your cholesterol without medication, you need to quit smoking, start exercising, eat a nutritious diet, and cut down on those cocktailsstarting now. And also, reduce your stress and try to sleep better.
Depending on your cholesterol levels and other risk factors, your doctor may give you a timeline for lowering your cholesterol through lifestyle modifications before the conversation will need to turn to medication.
But if lowering your cholesterol was really that easy, heart disease wouldnt be the number-one killer in the U.S. While some people have the skills and mindset to make sweeping, permanent changes in their behaviors, many dont. The fact is, making behavioral changes is hard, and it requires a lot of support.
Maintain A Normal Weight
Having a BMI in the overweight or obese range highly correlates with having excess body fat, which in turn can affect how your body processes cholesterol. Excess body fat also slows down the ability to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood, raising your levels and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
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.
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General Guidelines For Eating Heart Healthy
There are some general nutritional guidelines that you should follow in order to stay heart healthy. When you go to the grocery store, pick up the items listed below. Notice that you wont be going on the inside aisles of the grocery store. More likely you will be working the parameter or outside aisle. Thats where you will find whole, heart healthy foods. Leave the frozen foods and packaged foods on the shelf. You will want to pick up some packaged foods from the middle aisles, but they will be whole grain products. This is good. We want you shopping for real, not processed foods for the most part. They are simply healthier for you.
Other Causes Of High Cholesterol
People are often surprised to find out they have high cholesterol or triglycerides in their blood, but there are many possible explanations. High levels of blood fats can have many different causes which can all add up, including your lifestyle, genes, age, gender and ethnic background.
Here you can take a look at some of the lesser-known causes. Doctors sometimes call these ‘secondary causes’ of high cholesterol.
Learn about changing your lifestyle to help lower your cholesterol
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Leading A Sedentary Lifestyle
Staying active is about more than keeping your waist slender. Low activity levels are associated with high LDL and low HDL.
“When you aren’t exercising, you use less of the fat that cholesterol is transporting, allowing it to build up, but just a few months of consistent exercise can show a significant change in your HDL levels especially,” Jones says. Start small with a realistic exercise routine that you know you can stick with.
Regular fitness activity will protect your heart against coronary artery disease and help lower cholesterol. If you’re sedentary, you are not protecting your heart health, and you may also find yourself more at risk for weight gain or obesity.
“It takes about three months of a sustained lifestyle adjustment track to start to see a reduction in cholesterol numbers,” says Raza, who suggests a physical activity plan that incorporates at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
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Treatment And Medication Options For High Cholesterol
Although having high cholesterol numbers can contribute to the long-term risk of heart attack and stroke, you can lower your cholesterol through changes in your lifestyle habits, including adopting a heart-healthy diet, increasing your physical activity level, and quitting smoking. These long-term lifestyle changes can also prevent your cholesterol levels from changing in the first place.
Learn More About Prevention of High Cholesterol
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Heart Disease Is Complicated Forward Can Help
A Forward membership makes it easy for you to take control of your health. Our app provides full access to your health care team, test and assessment results, health goals, and progress. As your primary care provider, Forward emphasizes prevention through our doctor-led healthy heart program, cancer prevention program, and weight-loss and stress management clinics. Regular check-ins with your care team help you monitor your health and stay motivated to reach your goals.
Sardines: 1306 Mg 44% Dv
One can of sardines has 44 percent of the DV for cholesterol. But you should still include these little fish in your diet because theyre loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, providing 103 percent of the DV.
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can lower heart attack risk, blood pressure and triglyceride levels, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Try them in these protein-packed sardines recipes that promise to be free of any unpleasant fishy taste.
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What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
- 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As a general guide, LDL levels should be:
- 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is only one risk factor. The level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.
Are Home Cholesterol Testing Kits Accurate
The answer is yes if the tests are labeled CDC-certified. This means that the contents have been approved by the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network, a group that works with test makers, laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure tests are accurate.
For home tests, you will still need to fast for 12 hours and to obtain blood for testing. Some kits come with packages for mailing to a lab for results. Other kits have a monitor so you can get the results at home. The cost of such home kits vary.
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Hdl Cholesterol Or Good Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is sometimes called good cholesterol. It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
Who Should Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- are over the age of 40 people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
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Managing High Cholesterol And High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes are often the first step to improving both conditions.
Eat a healthy diet. Choose plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, and other lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. Good plans to follow are the DASH diet, designed to lower blood pressure, and the Mediterranean diet.
Keep saturated fat to less than 6% of your daily calories. Blood cholesterol is more a reflection of how much saturated fat you eat than the cholesterol in foods, but these diets naturally limit dietary cholesterol, too.
Key foods to avoid or at least limit are red meats, processed meats and other high-salt foods, and sugary foods and drinks. A plant-based diet often brings the best results.
Be more active. If you can get in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity each week, you can help lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure. And that doesn’t have to mean pounding it out on a treadmill. Throw a Frisbee with your kids in the backyard, and take brisk walks in a nearby state park.
Lose excess weight. Obesity is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more. It can increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol . It can also raise blood pressure. A weight loss of as little as 5% to 10% of your excess body weight can help improve cholesterol numbers and blood pressure.
How Can You Improve Your Cholesterol Levels
Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol requires conscious efforts to include a few lifestyle modifications. These include
- Reducing your intake of saturated fats and avoiding all trans fats
- Including fibrous foods in your daily diet
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes for at least five days a week
- Quitting tobacco products
- Limiting alcohol consumption
Your doctor may prescribe you cholesterol-lowering medications, especially if you have diabetes or other underlying health conditions.
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Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- transient ischaemic attack often known as a “mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity .
What Causes High Cholesterol And Are You At Risk
Cholesterol is a type of fat that travels in your bloodstream attached to lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins, more commonly known as LDL cholesterol, are the bad guys that stick to the walls of your arteries and harden into plaque, reducing or blocking the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and tissues. High-density lipoproteins, hailed as the good HDL cholesterol, moves along and picks up as much LDL as it can and takes it back to the liver, where its processed and expelled from the body.
Triglycerides arent cholesterol, but theyre another type of fat found in the blood. Triglycerides are created from the extra calories you consume, and theyre stored in your fat cells until your body needs them for energy. A lipoprotein known as very low-density lipoprotein, or VLDL, carries the triglycerides from your fat cells to your tissues for fuel. Once the VLDL drops off the fuel, it becomes LDL cholesterol and adds to the plaque buildup in your arteries.
Having high levels of bad cholesterol generally means you have high cholesterol, which increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. High triglyceride levels and low good HDL cholesterol also increase your risk for cardiovascular diseases.
But how do LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels end up so high?
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What Is The Difference Between Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein . It removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol.
If your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL level, you may be at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. But, if your total cholesterol level is high only because of a high HDL level, youre probably not at higher risk.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. When you eat more calories than your body can use, it turns the extra calories into triglycerides.
Changing your lifestyle can improve your cholesterol levels, lower LDL and triglycerides, and raise HDL.
Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart disease.
- Total cholesterol level less than 200 is best, but it depends on your HDL and LDL levels.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 130 is best, but this depends on your risk for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol levels 60 or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides less than 150 milligrams per deciliter is best.
Foods High In Cholesterol
One day, foods high in cholesterol are dietary culprits the next day, theyre superfoods.
Lets break down the reason behind the confusion. First of all, cholesterol is a waxy type of fat that is produced in your body and found in food.
The majority of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver, and it makes enough, so you dont have to get cholesterol from food. Cholesterol keeps cell membranes strong and helps your body make hormones, vitamin D and bile acids, according to a July 2019 study in Nutrients.
Cholesterol is carried through the blood by lipid carriers called lipoproteins. The main lipoproteins are high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein .
On the other hand, LDL is referred to as bad cholesterol because high levels can cause atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in your arteries. This can contribute to a heart attack or stroke, per the Centers for Disease Control .
There are no foods high in HDL cholesterol or LDL, but certain foods can raise or lower your HDL, LDL or total cholesterol levels. And some of these foods dont even contain cholesterol.
Below, youll find two lists of foods high in cholesterol: foods to include in your diet and foods you might want to cut out. Note that the FDAs Daily Value percentages are based on eating 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day.
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Things You Can’t Control Like Your Age
While some risk factors of high cholesterol are avoidable, a few aren’t. Namely, increasing age.
“As you age, you lose lean muscle mass. This leads to you becoming naturally more insulin resistant, which increases plaque instability and worsens your lipoprotein particle number, which increases cholesterol deposition in your blood vessels,” warns Dr. Septimus.
Additionally, high cholesterol can be caused by a rare genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia. It can also develop as a complication of other health conditions, particularly type 2 diabetes.
“If you have one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean you will develop high cholesterol, but it does mean you’ll need to be sure you’re adopting and maintaining the healthy lifestyle behaviors that reduce your risk,” adds Dr. Septimus.
The healthy lifestyle behaviors that can help you avoid high cholesterol and its consequences include:
- Avoiding processed/packaged foods and eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit
- Exercising regularly
- Taking steps to avoid other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity
- Losing weight, if you’re overweight
- Stopping smoking, if you smoke
Causes Of High Cholesterol
Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Living with obesity can also increase your risk. Other lifestyle factors that can contribute to high cholesterol include inactivity and smoking.
Your genetics can also affect your chances of developing high cholesterol. Genes are passed down from parents to children. Certain genes instruct your body on how to process cholesterol and fats. If your parents have high cholesterol, you may be at a greater risk of having it too.
In rare cases, high cholesterol is caused by familial hypercholesterolemia. This genetic disorder prevents your body from removing LDL. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute , most adults with this condition have total cholesterol levels above 300 milligrams per deciliter and LDL levels above 200 milligrams per deciliter.
Other health conditions, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, may also increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and related complications.
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