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Managing High LDL Cholesterol

Diet and exercise are always the first step in managing your high LDL cholesterol, but for some, they may not be enough. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about finding a management plan that works for you.

See how a low cholesterol diet and exercise can help reduce high LDL cholesterol

Switching to a Low Cholesterol Diet

Although diet is only one factor that affects your cholesterol, research has shown that making changes in what you eat can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol—called LDL cholesterol (or LDL-C)—in your body and improve your overall heart health. This isn’t to say that taking a healthy bite will completely change your cholesterol levels for good, but with the added help of regular exercise, what you choose to eat can help bring you closer to your LDL-C goal. In the charts below you’ll find helpful tips for choosing cholesterol-lowering food alternatives.

The Haves
Different foods can help lower cholesterol in different ways. Whether they drag LDL-C out of the body before it gets into circulation, or block absorption, these are some you may want to consider:
The Have-Nots
Trans fats found in baked treats and fried food increase LDL-C. So, between self-control and making cutbacks, finding a healthy balance can make all the difference. If you can’t avoid red meats, milk and other dairy products, here are a few suggestions:

Increasing Physical Activity

Another thing to consider is increasing your physical activity. Being overweight can raise your LDL-C levels and cardiovascular risks. But dropping the pounds may help. Before starting, you should always check with your healthcare provider to see what level of physical activity is best. So if you’re ready to make the commitment to work on you, you’ll be working on your LDL-C and reducing your risks as well.

Cholesterol-Lowering Treatment

If diet and exercise are not enough, cholesterol-lowering medications are also available. Talk to your doctor about what treatment options may be right for you. Together, you can determine the best overall management plan for reaching your LDL-C goal.

Setting Up for Success

Lowering your bad cholesterol—called LDL cholesterol (LDL-C)—is important in reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Despite this fact, evidence still suggests that millions of people living with high LDL-C are left untreated. So finding treatment that works, and sticking to it, is key.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with high levels of LDL-C, you and your healthcare provider will set an individual LDL-C goal and discuss a management plan with you—the steps you need to take to get there.

As a reminder, there are no noticeable signs of high LDL-C, so the only way to be aware of your cholesterol levels is through a blood test. The chart below from the National Lipid Association (NLA) can help you understand where you are versus where you want to be.

NLA CLASSIFICATIONS FOR LDL-C LEVELS
<100 mg/dL DESIRABLE
100-129 mg/dL ABOVE DESIRABLE
130-159 mg/dL BORDERLINE HIGH
160-189 mg/dL HIGH
≥190 mg/dL VERY HIGH

It’s extremely important to know where you stand, so talk to your healthcare provider about a complete cholesterol test and, if needed, find the right management plan to help you reach your LDL-C goals.

Below is an example of what you may see on your lipid panel test.