Lifestyle Cholesterol Management
Understanding Your Risk for Heart Disease
It is possible to minimize the risk of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. High blood cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease; keeping cholesterol levels in the normal range can decrease the risk of these diseases.
Lifestyle changes can let you take control of your heart health, and managing your cholesterol level is one such important lifestyle change. Other risk factors that can also be controlled include maintaining normal blood pressure, exercising, keeping your weight within normal limits, quitting smoking, and controlling diabetes and stress.
While one cannot control risk factors like age and family history of heart disease or stroke, it is possible to minimize the other risk factors to live a longer and healthier life.
Knowing your cholesterol number is a good first step in reducing risk. These include total cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol), LDL (low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. Together they are part of a blood screening test called a lipoprotein analysis and can give direction to you and your health care practitioner about the potential need to control cholesterol levels. If cholesterol numbers are abnormal, they indicate an increased risk for coronary artery disease and stroke, and you and your health care practitioner may begin a lifelong program to control those elevated levels with diet and exercise. These are first line strategies to try before cholesterol-lowering medications are prescribed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is positively associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).