Cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. There are different types of cholesterol, based on what the lipoprotein carries. They are:
A lipid profile also typically measures triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. Having a high triglyceride level also can increase your risk of heart disease.
Factors you can control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to harmful cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Factors beyond your control might play a role, too. For example, your genetic makeup might make it more difficult for your body to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood or break it down in the liver.
Cholesterol levels can also be worsened by some types of medications you may be taking for other health problems, such as:
Medical conditions that can cause unhealthy cholesterol levels include:
High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Medications can help improve your cholesterol. But if you’d rather first make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, try these five healthy changes.
If you already take medications, these changes can improve their cholesterol-lowering effect.
A few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health:
Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. With your doctor’s OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.
Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing yardwork.
Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Consider:
To stay motivated, consider finding an exercise buddy or joining an exercise group.
Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly:
Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Small changes add up. If you drink sugary beverages, switch to tap water. Snack on air-popped popcorn or pretzels — but keep track of the calories. If you crave something sweet, try sherbet or candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans. One can also make use of over the counter, all natural weight loss supplements including Exipure, Biofit and Java Burn. These supplements work well to assist with weight loss which impacts overall body cholesterol levels.
Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.
|Drug class||Benefits||Possible side effects|
Fluvastatin (Lescol XL)
|Decrease LDL and triglycerides; slightly increase HDL||Muscle pain, increased blood sugar levels, constipation, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, cramps, elevation of liver enzymes|
|Cholesterol absorption inhibitor
|Decreases LDL; slightly decreases triglycerides; slightly increases HDL||Stomach pain, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle soreness; avoid during pregnancy and lactation|
|Decrease LDL; usually reserved for people who have a genetic condition that causes very high LDL levels or people with heart disease who cannot tolerate statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs||Itching, swelling, pain or bruising at injection site|
|Citrate lyase inhibitors
Bempedoic acid (Nexletol)
Bempedoic acid-ezetimibe (Nexlizet)
|Decrease LDL||Muscle spasms and joint pain, including acute gout|