High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease and cardiovascular disease, even though it can often be effectively managed through lifestyle changes. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco are among the most effective ways to prevent and treat high cholesterol. For additional tips on managing cholesterol, click here. When these lifestyle changes are not enough, it’s sometimes necessary to use a prescription medication to get cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
Cholesterol occurs naturally in our bodies and helps our organs function properly. It’s also found in foods containing animal fat like beef, poultry, egg yolks and cheese. The amount of cholesterol found in plant based foods, like nuts, is generally lower. A diet high in total fat can increase blood cholesterol levels, which can build up on artery walls making them narrower and less flexible. This can lead to a host of health complications, including coronary artery disease.
It’s important to have your cholesterol checked during your annual wellness visit with your healthcare provider. Cholesterol is measured as a whole, or your “total” cholesterol. You should aim for a total cholesterol level of less than 200. Total cholesterol is made up of:
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as the “bad” cholesterol. Higher levels of LDL are associated with increased risks of heart disease.
High density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the “good” cholesterol and can decrease your risk of developing heart disease. Regular exercise can significantly boost your HDL.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in blood and in your food. High triglycerides are also a risk factor for heart disease. Aim for a triglycerides level of 150 or less.
When healthy lifestyle habits are not enough, we encourage our members to make cost-effective decisions when it comes to prescription medications. If you are currently taking a prescribed drug to treat high cholesterol, it’s important to consider a generic alternative that can reduce costs while still meeting clinical needs.
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