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Step up to a Healthier You with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

Blood Cholesterol

Treating High Cholesterol

How to Improve Cholesterol Levels

You can increase your HDL (good) cholesterol by:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating less saturated and trans fats
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

You can decrease your LDL (bad) cholesterol by:

  • Eating less saturated and trans fat foods
  • Eating more fibre, especially soluble fibre
  • Eating foods that contain plant sterols
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

You can decrease your triglycerides by:

  • Limiting sugar
  • Eating more omega-3 fats from fish sources
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Medications for Lowering Cholesterol 

For some people lifestyle changes are not enough to bring their cholesterol to a healthy level. In such situations your doctor may prescribe medication.

Medication type:

Statins are drugs which block an enzyme in your liver required to make cholesterol. As a result, your liver makes less cholesterol and picks up LDL “bad” cholesterol from your bloodstream. These drugs are very effective. For example:

  • Crestor (rosuvastatin)
  • Lipitor (atovastatin)
  • Zocor (simvastatin)

Cholesterol absorption inhibitors work by preventing your body from absorbing and storing cholesterol in your liver and improve the way cholesterol is cleared from your blood. This drug helps lower the levels of total and LDL cholesterol in your blood. For example:

  • Ezetrol (ezetimibe) 

Bile acid sequestrants (resins) work by reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. Your body uses cholesterol to make bile, which is needed for digestion. Bile acid sequestrants bind to bile, preventing it from being used during digestion. This causes your liver to make more bile and the more it makes, the more LDL “bad” cholesterol it needs. For example:

  • Questran (cholestyramine resin)
  • Colestid (Colestipol)

Fibric acids (fibrates) break down triglycerides. These are occasionally used in combination with other cholesterol lowering drugs. For example:

  • Lipidil and Lipidil EZ (fenofibrate)
  • Lopid (gemfibrozil)

Niacin works by slowing the liver’s production of the chemicals that help make LDL “bad” cholesterol. It significantly raises HDL “good” cholesterol. It is a form of vitamin B which should only be taken as a cholesterol lowering medication when prescribed by your doctor. For example:

  • Niaspan (Nicotinic Acid) 

As with many medications, some may cause side effects. It is important to keep in mind that these medications do not cure high cholesterol, nor do they replace a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, they should always be used as part of a healthy living plan, which includes eating well and engaging in regular physical activity.