Addressing high cholesterol can sometimes be a bit confusing, especially if you have other health concerns like diabetes, high blood pressure, or if you're dealing with excess weight. For those with diabetes, it's essential to keep your blood sugar in check because it directly affects the health of your heart. Making some changes in your daily habits and, in some cases, taking medication can be helpful if you have high blood pressure. If you're worried about being overweight, focusing on maintaining a healthy weight and making changes to your diet is a good strategy. To stay on top of things and keep your heart health in check, it's essential to have regular follow-ups and discussions with your healthcare team.

When a healthcare provider diagnoses you with hyperlipidemia (that's a medical terminology for high lipid levels), they will consider your overall health and other factors like whether you smoke or have high blood pressure to guide your treatment. These factors, combined with having high LDL cholesterol (often called "bad" cholesterol) or low HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), can impact your heart health. Your doctor may even evaluate your risk of having a heart problem in the next 10 years.

The encouraging part is that you have the ability to decrease elevated cholesterol levels, which in turn lessens the risk of heart disease and strokes. If you're 20 years or older, it's advisable to have your cholesterol levels assessed and collaborate closely with your physician to implement any required changes.

Typically, changes in your daily habits, like eating healthier and getting more exercise, can make a big difference in your cholesterol levels. However, if these lifestyle changes don't do the trick, your doctor may recommend medication to help.

Dietary Changes for Heart Health

  • Reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet.
  • Limit consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy products.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy alternatives.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy oils.
  • Minimize intake of red and processed meats, sodium, and sugary foods.

Physical Activity

  • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
  • Activities can include walking, swimming, cycling, and more.

Quitting Smoking

  • Quit smoking to lower HDL cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.
  • Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Weight Management

  • Even a modest weight loss of 5-10% can improve cholesterol levels.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider to create a personalized treatment plan for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and overall heart health.