If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it is important to do as much as you can to change the situation as soon as possible. High cholesterol can contribute to heart problems and many other serious health issues that may reduce the quality and length of your life.

The three main methods of controlling cholesterol levels are dietary changes, increased physical activity and prescription medications. You should always consult a doctor before beginning any kind of treatment regimen, but the following information should be a good place to start.

Controlling Cholesterol Levels through Dietary Changes
Reducing the amount of dietary cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fatty acids you consume can dramatically reduce your cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association, the average person should not be consuming more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day, while those with coronary disease should not be consuming more than 200 milligrams per day. It’s also important to limit your intake of saturated and trans-fatty fats, or eliminate them completely if possible. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are acceptable, though, and can actually be very healthy in moderation.

Controlling Cholesterol Levels through Exercise and Lifestyle Changes
Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day is recommended to keep your cholesterol levels low and your heart healthy, although most experts recommend taking a day or two off from strenuous exercise each week to stretch, relax and let your muscles regain strength. If you’ve been out of the gym for a while, or had never really been there in the first place, don’t worry! Simple exercises like walking, riding your bike or going for a slow, relaxed jog will do the trick. Other important lifestyle changes include quitting smoking and keeping your weight within a healthy range.

Controlling Cholesterol through Prescription Drugs
If diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes aren’t sufficiently lowering your cholesterol, your physician may recommend adding a prescription medication to your plan of attack. This is typically a last resort for people in the following categories who are at particular risk of heart disease:

  • Smokers or those who work around smokers
  • Diabetics with a fasting blood sugar of at least 126 mg/dL
  • People with a family history of coronary heart disease before age 65
  • People with blood pressure of at least 140/90 mm Hg
  • People with HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL
  • Men age 45 years and over
  • Women age 55 and over
  • Women experiencing premature menopause and NOT in estrogen replacement therapy

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