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Cholesterol and lifestyle

Hyperlipidemia - cholesterol and lifestyle; CAD - cholesterol and lifestyle; Coronary artery disease - cholesterol and lifestyle; Heart disease - cholesterol and lifestyle; Prevention - cholesterol and lifestyle; Cardiovascular disease - cholesterol and lifestyle; Peripheral artery disease - cholesterol and lifestyle; Stroke - cholesterol and lifestyle; Atherosclerosis - cholesterol and lifestyle

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Your body needs cholesterol to work well. But cholesterol levels that are too high can harm you.

Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Extra cholesterol in your blood builds up inside the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque, or atherosclerosis. Plaque reduces or stops blood flow. This can cause a:

Your Cholesterol Numbers

All men should have their blood cholesterol levels tested every 5 years, starting at age 35 years. All women should do the same, starting at age 45 years. Many adults should have their blood cholesterol levels tested at a younger age, possibly as early as age 20 years, if they have risk factors for heart disease. Children with risk factors for heart disease should also have their blood cholesterol levels checked. Some expert groups recommend cholesterol testing for all children ages 9 to 11 and again between ages 17 and 21. Have your cholesterol checked more often (probably every year) if you have:

A blood cholesterol test measures the level of total cholesterol. This includes HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Your LDL level is what health care providers watch most closely. You want it to be low. If it gets too high, you will need to treat it.

Treatment includes:

You may also need medicine to lower your cholesterol.

You want your HDL cholesterol to be high. Exercise can help raise it.

Eating Right

It is important to eat right, keep a healthy weight, and exercise, even if:

These healthy habits may help prevent future heart attacks and other health problems.

Eat foods that are low in fat. These include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Using low-fat toppings, sauces, and dressings will help.

Look at food labels. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat. Eating too much of this type of fat can lead to heart disease.

Eat foods that are high in fiber. Good fibers to eat are oats, bran, split peas and lentils, beans (kidney, black, and navy beans), some cereals, and brown rice.

Learn how to shop for, and cook, foods that are healthy for your heart. Learn how to read food labels to choose healthy foods. Stay away from fast foods, where healthy choices can be hard to find.

Get plenty of exercise. And talk with your provider about what kinds of exercises are best for you.

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Heart failure - overview
Peripheral artery disease - legs
High blood cholesterol levels
High blood pressure - adults
Angioplasty and stent placement - peripheral arteries
Peripheral artery bypass - leg
Angina - discharge
Heart attack - discharge
Angioplasty and stent - heart - discharge
Aspirin and heart disease
Being active when you have heart disease
Butter, margarine, and cooking oils
Cardiac catheterization - discharge
Controlling your high blood pressure
Heart bypass surgery - discharge
Heart bypass surgery - minimally invasive - discharge
Dietary fats explained
Fast food tips
Heart disease - risk factors
How to read food labels
Mediterranean diet
Heart failure - fluids and diuretics
Heart failure - home monitoring
Heart failure - discharge
Stroke - discharge
Managing your blood sugar
Low-salt diet
Angina - what to ask your doctor
Cholesterol - what to ask your doctor
Heart failure - what to ask your doctor
High blood pressure - what to ask your doctor
Heart attack - what to ask your doctor
Angioplasty and stent placement - peripheral arteries - discharge
Angioplasty and stent placement - carotid artery - discharge
Aortic aneurysm repair - endovascular - discharge
Atrial fibrillation - discharge
Carotid artery surgery - discharge
Peripheral artery bypass - leg - discharge
Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair - open - discharge

References

American Diabetes Association. 9. Cardiovascular disease and risk management: standards of medical care in diabetes-2018. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(Suppl 1):S86-S104. PMID: 29222380 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29222380.

Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2960-2984. PMID: 24239922 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24239922.

Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, et al. 2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA Guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018. pii: S0735-1097(18)39034-X. PMID: 30423393 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30423393.

Heimburger DC. Nutrition's interface with health and disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 213.

Mozaffarian D. Nutrition and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 49.

Pencina MJ, Navar-Boggan AM, D'Agostino RB Sr, et al. Application of new cholesterol guidelines to a population-based sample. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(15):1422-1431. PMID: 24645848 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24645848.

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Review Date: 7/25/2018  

Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. 03-25-19: Editorial update.

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