Experiences withHigh cholesterol
High cholesterol does not cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.
You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine such as statins.
To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.
Check labels on food to see what type of fat it has in it.
Try to eat more:
- oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
- brown rice, bread and pasta
- nuts and seeds
- fruits and vegetables
Try to eat less:
- meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- butter, lard and ghee
- cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- cakes and biscuits
- food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.
Some good things to try when starting out include:
- walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
Try a few different exercises to find something you like doing. You're more likely to keep doing it if you enjoy it.
Smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
If you want to stop smoking, you can get help and support from:
- your GP
- the NHS Stop Smoking Service – your GP can refer you or you can ring the helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England only)
They can give you useful tips and advice about ways to stop cravings.
Cut down on alcohol
- avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have several drink-free days each week
- avoid drinking lots of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking)
Ask your GP for help and advice if you're struggling to cut down.
Medicine to lower your cholesterol
You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if:
- your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle
- you're at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke
Ask your doctor about the medicines you can take.
Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol.
They reduce the amount of cholesterol your body makes.
You take a tablet once a day. You usually need to take them for life.
Other medicines for high cholesterol
Other medicines may be used if statins do not work or you do not want to take statins.
- other tablets – such as ezetimibe, fibrates, bile acid sequestrants (also called resins) and bempedoic acid
- injections – such as alirocumab and evolocumab
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