This page contains the basic information about High Cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia) .
The initial treatment of high cholesterol should always be lifestyle changes. This means altering your diet and getting more exercise. Some people respond dramatically to dietary changes.
There is no consensus on the best diet. The most effective diet to lower total and LDL cholesterol is a vegetarian diet. However, this is not an easy diet to follow.
Many people prefer a "Mediterranean style" diet. There is no strict definition for what should be included in this type of diet. In general, this means
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends the following diet:
Avoid all trans fats.
To maintain a desirable weight, you should take in only as many calories as you burn each day. If you need to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn.
People who aren't sure how to follow such a diet may find it useful to work with a health care professional such as a dietitian, nutritionist, doctor or nurse.
In addition to dietary changes, you should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, daily.
Whether you need medication to lower your cholesterol level depends on how you respond to diet and your personal risk of heart attack and stroke.
There are five types of cholesterol-lowering medications:
If your cholesterol is not controlled with diet and other lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend that you take one or more of these medications. Each type of medication works differently and has different types of side effects.
In addition to dietary changes or medication, people with high cholesterol should try to control their other risk factors for coronary artery disease. This means keeping blood pressure at normal levels, not smoking, controlling your blood sugar, maintaining or losing weight and following a regular exercise schedule.
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Created: 4/27/2004 | Last Modified: 8/21/2006
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2006 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.