A high cholesterol diagnosis can be scary, but fortunately, a number of treatments can help you get your numbers back on track. Medications and lifestyle changes can make a drastic difference in your cholesterol levels, so be sure to discuss these options, as well as any other medications, supplements and vitamins you may be taking, with your doctor.

Making changes to the way you live can reduce high cholesterol. Better yet, it can prevent it!  The below tips are a great place to start:

1. Lose weight.
If you are overweight, shed the extra pounds. Losing just 5%-10% of your body weight can make a big difference.

2. Eat smart. Increase your consumption of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods rich in essential fatty acids like cold-water fish. 

3. Get moving. Work out up to 30-60 minutes per day. You don’t have to run a marathon. Walking is fine. If you can’t find a solid block of time, break it up. For example, walk the dog three times a day for 15 minutes each time.

4. Don’t smoke. If you do, quit!

Several types of medication treat high cholesterol. You and your doctor will decide what’s best for you.

1.    Statins. These slow the production of cholesterol in the liver. They have been around for decades and are the most commonly prescribed medications for high cholesterol.

2.    Bile acid sequestrants
. These help remove cholesterol from the bloodstream by eliminating bile acids.

3.    Cholesterol absorption inhibitors. These lower the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs. They may be used in combination with statins.

4.    Niacin, or nicotinic acid.
Niacin is a B vitamin that can raise HDL while lowering LDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Prescription niacin is believed to have fewer side effects than over-the-counter (OTC) versions.

5.    Fibrates.
Fibrates mainly lower triglycerides and, to a lesser extent, increase HDL.

6.    Omega-3 supplements. These are available as fish oil and in other OTC supplements. There are also prescription supplements. Since omega-3 supplements can interact with other medications, be sure to check with your doctor before you take them.

Most of these medications have few side effects, but keep in mind that you may need regular blood tests to check liver function. You’ll probably have your cholesterol checked more often initially to see how you are responding to the medication. Once you find a treatment that works for you, tests will become less frequent.

However you and your physician decide to manage your high cholesterol, never stop taking your medications as directed without first consulting your doctor.

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