Do you have a recent high-cholesterol diagnosis? If you want to learn more about this common condition or you’re not sure what to do next, take a look at the answers to the top questions patients have.
Is High Cholesterol Common?
Your aren’t alone in a high cholesterol diagnosis. This diagnosis is assigned to patients who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL or higher. And almost 29 million adults in the United States have a 240-plus total cholesterol level, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Along with the millions of Americans with this diagnosis, the CDC notes that 93 million adults 20 or older have borderline high cholesterol (200 to 240 mg/dL). Whether you have a borderline number or your cholesterol is over 240, you are one of many Americans with this potentially serious condition.
Is High Cholesterol Only a Senior Condition?
Are you a young or middle-aged adult with a new high-cholesterol diagnosis? Even though you may think of this condition as an age-related issue, high cholesterol can affect people of all ages. According to the CDC, seven percent of people six to 19 years old have high cholesterol numbers.
Is High Cholesterol Easy to Treat?
You have high cholesterol. Now what? Whether you’re a young adult or a senior (or anywhere in between), you can combat this condition. The specific way you treat high cholesterol depends on several factors, including your overall health, lifestyle (diet, activity level, substance use), and the doctor’s recommendations.
If you are overweight, eat an unhealthy diet, rarely exercise, smoke, or drink alcohol, it’s likely your medical provider will suggest lifestyle changes or modifications. Along with dietary, activity, and substance use changes, the doctor may prescribe a medication to lower your overall cholesterol levels. This option is often necessary for patients who already lead a healthy lifestyle.
Common medications that treat high cholesterol include bile-acid-binding resins, statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and PCSK9 inhibitors. These medications work in different ways to remove cholesterol from your blood, reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body, or block its absorption.
The medication your doctor chooses depends on your cholesterol levels, health status, and other related conditions. If the doctor feels you need medication to treat this condition or other strategies don’t work, discuss the benefits of the recommended/prescribed drug.
What Dietary Changes Can You Make?
The sooner you make lifestyle changes, the better for your body. If you have a high-fat or unhealthy diet, the doctor may suggest you modify meals or completely overhaul what you eat.
The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy diet with low levels of saturated fats and higher levels of fiber. Limit saturated fats to between five and six percent of your daily calories to help reduce cholesterol. If possible, avoid or limit red meats and full-fat dairy products. Instead of these foods, choose whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Processed or fast foods are often high in fat and low in fiber. Always read nutrition labels to assess whether these (or other packaged foods) are heart healthy.
What Activity Changes Should You Make?
Diet changes aren’t the only lifestyle modifications to make right now. After your high cholesterol diagnosis, talk to the doctor about how to change or increase your activity level. According to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly can help to reduce total cholesterol levels. Some patients may need medical guidance — especially if you have mobility issues or another health concern.
Are you ready to get healthy and treat your cholesterol condition? Contact GhentMD for more information.