According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of adults, teens, and children in the United States have cholesterol levels that are too high. High cholesterol levels can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
The good news is that no matter your age, you can lower your numbers and improve your health.
At MS Family Medicine Health Care PC, with New York City offices in Rosedale and Garden City, medical director Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, and our team of health experts take a comprehensive and holistic approach to managing cholesterol levels.
Here, we want to share some treatment options if your cholesterol levels are high.
About high cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy fat made in your liver. Your body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, vitamin D, and certain hormones. However, if your blood cholesterol gets too high, the waxy fat can combine with other substances in your blood and form plaque. Plaque can stick to your blood vessel walls and build up over time, causing a condition called atherosclerosis.
As the plaque builds up, this can cause your blood vessels to narrow and may even lead to blockages. And this can put you at risk for heart attack and stroke.
Some people have familial hypercholesterolemia, which is an inherited condition that affects the body’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood, resulting in high cholesterol levels. However, in most cases, high cholesterol levels result from unhealthy lifestyle choices.
No matter the underlying cause, however, lifestyle changes are the first treatment option when treating high cholesterol.
Start with lifestyle changes
Poor diet choices, lack of exercise, and smoking are some of the unhealthy lifestyle habits that can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Because we focus on wellness and preventative care, our treatment for high cholesterol starts with lifestyle changes, such as the following:
What you eat can affect your cholesterol numbers and overall health. Eating heart-healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins — such as seafood and beans — may help lower your cholesterol levels.
Because of the benefits of eating well, we offer nutritional counseling to help you make changes to your diet and improve your cholesterol levels.
Inactivity can also affect your cholesterol numbers. Getting 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise — such as a brisk walk — five days a week may lower your cholesterol levels. We also recommend exercise to patients who have hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of having high cholesterol. If you’re overweight, losing as little as 5-10% of your current weight may improve your cholesterol numbers.
Through in-office visits and telemedicine, we can help you incorporate lifestyle changes and monitor your cholesterol numbers.
Then try cholesterol-lowering medications
If your cholesterol remains high after making lifestyle changes, then we might recommend cholesterol-lowering medication. When deciding on a medication or combination of medications, we take into consideration your risk factors, age, and the medication side effects.
Prescription medication options for high cholesterol include:
- Statins, which block cholesterol production in the liver
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors, which limit absorption of dietary cholesterol
- Bempedoic acid, which blocks cholesterol production in the liver
- Bile-acid binding resins, which bind to bile acids to reduce blood cholesterol
- PCSK9 inhibitors, which increase absorption of bad cholesterol for familial hypercholesterolemia
Even when taking medication for high cholesterol, you still need to continue to follow a healthy lifestyle.
High cholesterol develops without causing symptoms. If you have concerns about your cholesterol numbers, book an appointment online or over the phone with MS Family Medicine Health Care PC today.