- High cholesterol
- Managing high cholesterol
How can I improve my cholesterol levels?
Cholesterol levels are generally a reflection of lifestyle. The first step to improve your cholesterol levels is through lifestyle modifications, which refers to dietary modification, weight reduction, regular physical activity/exercise, smoking cessation and alcohol restriction.1–3 Healthy lifestyle can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 20–30%.4
Cholesterol-lowering medications: Options for consideration
If your cholesterol levels are still above the target range despite your efforts to live a healthier lifestyle, you may need to take cholesterol-lowering medications for better cholesterol-lowering effects.
Before starting treatment with cholesterol-lowering medications, you should have a blood test to check your cholesterol levels and liver health. After starting treatment, your blood cholesterol and liver function will continue to be monitored to assess how well the medication is working for you.5
Your doctor may suggest a single or a combination of cholesterol-lowering medications.
How long will I need to take my cholesterol-lowering medication?
Once you start on a cholesterol-lowering medication, you will most likely be on it indefinitely even if your cholesterol levels have decreased. Many people find that once they stop taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, their cholesterol levels go back up.7
Do supplements have a role in managing cholesterol?
In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking cholesterol-lowering medications, you might wonder if adding certain cholesterol-lowering supplements to your diet can help reduce your cholesterol levels. It is important to discuss with your doctor first on this, as the long-term value of certain supplements (as listed below) may be controversial8:
- Artichoke extract
- Fish oil
- Green tea extract
- Oat bran
- Plant stanols and stenols
- Whey protein
- Soy protein
- Grapefruit juice
While trying to manage your high cholesterol, take steps to manage other risk factors of heart disease as well. You and your healthcare professional each plays an important role in maintaining and improving your heart health.
- Ministry of Health Malaysia. Clinical practice guidelines: Management of dyslipidaemia (4th Edition); 2011.
- American Heart Association & American Stroke Association. Understanding and managing high cholesterol and the importance of managing coronary heart disease. Available at http://www.guidelineadvantage.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_466865.pdf. Accessed 19 September, 2019.
- NHS choices. Lower your cholesterol. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthyhearts/pages/cholesterol.aspx. Accessed 19 September, 2019.
- WebMD. 10 best diet plans for high cholesterol. Available at http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/best-cholesterol-diets. Accessed 19 September, 2019.
- Patient.info. Statins and other lipid-lowering medicines. Available at http://patient.info/health/statins-and-other-lipid-lowering-medicines. Accessed 19 September, 2019.
- Mayo Clinic. Cholesterol medications: Consider the options. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/cholesterol-medications/art-20050958. Accessed 19 September, 2019.
- National Center for Health Research. A guide to cholesterol medication. Available at http://www.center4research.org/guide-cholesterol-medication/. Accessed 8 October, 2019.
- Mayo Clinic. Cholesterol-lowering supplements may be helpful. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/cholesterol-lowering-supplements/art-20050980. Accessed 19 September, 2019.