Why is it important to treatHypercholesterolemia?
For every 1% reduction in cholesterol level, the risk of heart disease is reduced 2%.
How is it treated?
A diet high in soluble fiber and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help to lower cholesterol levels. Follow these guidelines for a healthy diet:
- Increase the soluble fiber in your diet by eating fruits and vegetables (especially leafy vegetables and fresh fruits), peas, dried beans, and whole grains.
- Choose poultry, fish, or meatless entrees more often than you choose red meats.
- Remove the skin before eating chicken or turkey.
- Use lean cuts of meat and trim off all visible fat. Keep portion sizes moderate.
- Limit the amount of nuts you eat, especially nuts high in saturated fat. Examples of nuts that are especially high in saturated fat are cashews, pistachios, and Brazil and macadamia nuts.
- Replace saturated fats in your diet with moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. For example, strictly limit your use of butter, margarine, regular cheeses, shortening, and tropical oils (such as coconut and palm oils), which are high in saturated fat. Use instead sunflower, safflower, soybean, canola, or olive oil and small amounts of soft tub margarines, which are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.
- Replace whole milk dairy products with nonfat or low–fat milk, cheese, spreads, and yogurt.
- Eat no more than four egg yolks per week. Use egg substitutes.
- Avoid fatty desserts including ice cream, cream–filled cakes, cheesecakes, etc. Choose fresh fruits, nonfat frozen yogurt, Popsicles, etc.
- Reduce the amount of fried foods, vending machine food, and fast food you eat.
- Look for low–fat or nonfat varieties of the foods you like to eat, or look for substitutes.
- Reduce the amount of cholesterol you consume. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the cholesterol in your diet to 250 to 300 milligrams per day.
- Read labels on food packages.
If neither diet nor exercise substantially reduce your cholesterol level, your doctor may prescribe drugs. Drugs that can lower cholesterol include cholestyramine (Questran), colestipol (Colestid), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), probucol (Lorelco), gemfibrozil, or niacin. Some of these drugs have side effects your doctor will need to discuss with you. Sometimes you will need a combination of medications to decrease your total cholesterol.
How can I take care of myself and prevent hypercholesterolemia?
In addition to changing your diet, you can help lower your cholesterol by the following:
- Get more exercise, especially aerobic exercise. Ask your doctor about an exercise prescription. Start slowly to avoid injury. Exercise helps raise HDL levels, improve circulation, decrease body fat, and tone muscles.
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a normal weight.
- Have your cholesterol levels and weight checked by your doctor.