If your doctor has diagnosed you with high cholesterol, it’s important to take any medications prescribed on time, every day, for as long as your doctor says you need it. But there are also things you can do to help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Eat a Healthy Diet.
Diet can be very effective in helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, especially when you reduce the amount of saturated fats and trans fats you eat. According to the American Heart Association®, saturated fats should be limited to 5 to 6 percent of the calories you eat each day and trans fats should be avoided.
To limit your calories from saturated and trans fat, you should limit your intake of:
- Red meat
- Full-fat dairy products (choose skim milk and low-fat or fat-free products)
- Fried foods
- High-sugar foods and beverages
Healthier options include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Healthier oils, such as vegetable or olive oils
Talk to your doctor or your CVS Specialty CareTeam about the healthy eating options that are right for you.
Exercising and being more physically active can help increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Because HDL cholesterol helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood, you may see your numbers improve and your health risks decrease.
According to the American Heart Association, just 40 minutes of aerobic exercise per day (moderate to high intensity) three to four times per week is effective at lowering both cholesterol and high blood pressure. Many activities qualify as aerobic exercise, including walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing. So find something you enjoy and will stick with. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you get started with your new routine.
Smoking not only lowers HDL levels, but it compounds health risks in people with high levels of LDL cholesterol. By quitting, you can lower your cholesterol levels and protect your arteries. Non-smokers should avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. If you’re ready to quit and need help, talk to your doctor or call your CareTeam.
Being overweight or obese is associated with high LDL and low HDL cholesterol. According to the American Health Association, a 10 percent weight loss is effective at improving your cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor or your CVS Specialty CareTeam about how you can maintain a healthy weight.
For more information on leading a healthy lifestyle, talk to your doctor or CVS Specialty CareTeam.