Adapting To High Cholesterol

Finding out that you have high cholesterol can be scary. The phrase “high cholesterol” suggests an increased likelihood of future heart problems and a shortened lifespan. However, taking the time to learn about this condition and making some lifestyle changes may help you effectively manage the symptoms of high cholesterol.

High Cholesterol and Your Health

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the fat in your blood. While your body needs some cholesterol to function, too much cholesterol can cause problems.

There are no obvious symptoms of high cholesterol. However, the condition can lead to a narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which can reduce blood flow to crucial organs, especially the heart and brain. High cholesterol can, in turn, lead to a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol is caused by a combination of factors, some of which you can control (such as diet and exercise) and others that you can’t, including genetics.

High Cholesterol: Factors You Can Control

Three of the most common contributors to high cholesterol are obesity, inactivity and poor diet, according to the Mayo Clinic (2010). Fortunately, all three are within your power to change.

In many cases, losing weight, getting more exercise and changing your diet will be enough to reduce the symptoms of high cholesterol. Smoking is another risk factor, so if you smoke and have high cholesterol, try to kick the habit. If these steps don’t help you get your cholesterol under control, your doctor may prescribe one of many high cholesterol medications.

High Cholesterol: Factors You Can’t Control

Unfortunately, genetics also play a role in the development of high cholesterol. Some people’s bodies don’t efficiently remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. In these cases, even a healthy, active lifestyle can’t prevent high cholesterol.

If your high cholesterol is tied to genetic factors, a doctor may prescribe high cholesterol medications to control the problem. Additionally, some natural supplements may help reduce cholesterol. However, consult your doctor before taking these, especially if you’re already taking high cholesterol medications.

For many people, the ideal treatment for high cholesterol involves both medication and lifestyle changes. With this two-pronged attack, many cases of high cholesterol can be brought under control.

Resources

Mayo Clinic. (2010). High cholesterol. Retrieved January 7, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-cholesterol/DS00178

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2006). High cholesterol guide. Retrieved January 7, 2011, from http://www.umm.edu/careguides/000242.htm