There are medical as well as non-medical ways to reduce the cholesterol levels. Drugs which help in lowering the levels of the cholesterol are widely used now-a-days. The drugs used these days act on a superficial level and deal only with the symptoms. The underlying cause still remains untouched. Moreover for those people who have been recently diagnosed with high cholesterol, life style modification might itself show great results. Whereas for some people with other underlying problem like Diabetes or uncontrolled cholesterol might need medical intervention along with life style modification. So a solution which is perfect for one might not suit the other person.
Lifestyle modification is safe and easy to administer. But it is a time taking procedure, and one need's to give it adequate time for the benefits to be seen. If they work well, one can avoid taking medicines on a daily basis. For a few people drug therapy becomes inevitable. Therefore a holistic approach is the best approach to reduce bad cholesterol and keep our hearts healthy.
Life style changes:
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Losing excess weight: Being overweight increases the chances of a person having high LDL and triglycerides. So it is very important to maintain a healthy body with weight under control.
Exercise: Exercise increases the blood circulation and helps in reducing the bad cholesterol in our body. Start right away. Any form of exercise is good to reduce those extra calories in our body. Simple walking for 30 minutes is a great start.
Good form of exercise should ideally include Resistance training+ cardiovascular training. Resistance training includes exercising with dumbbells, machines, therapeutic bands etc.
Cardiovascular training includes walking, jogging, cycling etc. It does take time for the results to be seen, but exercising is a safe and easy method to lower your levels. Moreover it is proved that exercise helps in increasing the HDL levels in our body. HDL is the good cholesterol and it helps in keeping the heart healthy.
How to intensify your physical activity?
Jogging or jumping
Bicycle riding on level ground
Riding on hills
150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate intensity exercise is very beneficial.
An alternative would be 75 minutes a week of vigorous -intensity aerobic activity. Example: 10 minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week is a good start.
2 or more days of strengthening protocol involving all the major muscle groups
A diet which is low in saturated fat and trans-fat.
STOP Smoking and alcohol consumption.
Making necessary changes in our diet helps in reducing the cholesterol levels in a healthy way.
Dietary sources: Animal-based omega 3 fats are said to reduce the total cholesterol as well as the triglycerides in our body. They also help in improving the levels of HDL.
Red yeast rice is said to lower the excess cholesterol.
One needs to follow a diet which has less of sugars and more of whole grains.
Diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Whole wheat, whole grain, whole oats, brown rice, corn meal, whole rye
Raw food also helps in reducing the cholesterol levels.
Baked food instead of fried food. For example, baked potato instead of a fired one
Real meat instead of processed meat. Choose lean or low-fat cut meat. Sea food is better than meat or poultry.
Fat free milk and other dairy products. Decrease the intake of trans-fat. Check the label before purchasing a product.
Replace caloric beverages with non-caloric beverages like lemon water.
Raw nuts, Sun flower seeds instead of chips and other junk
Raw egg or slightly cooked with the yolk intact.
Lifestyle changes might not be enough for a few people. Medication becomes mandatory in a few people who are at a high risk of developing cardiovascular disorders. Statin therapy is the most effective and widely used medicine to lower the cholesterol levels. Statins like Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Pravachol, Mevacor and Zocor work on the levels of cholesterol by blocking the enzyme that helps in its production. It is said that these drugs effectively reduce LDL levels by 20-55%.
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Other than statins, there are other medicines too which have an effect on cholesterol levels. They are
Bile acid resins: This group includes Colestid, Prevalite, Questran, Lo-cholest and WelChol. These drugs prevent the absorption of the cholesterol by sticking to it in the intestines. These drugs lower the LDL by 15-30 %.
Fibric acids like Lopid, Antara, Tricor, Atromid help in reducing the triglycerides and might increase the HDL's slightly.
Ezetimibe (Zetia) blocks part of the cholesterol from being absorbed. These drugs lower the LDL by 18-25%.
Niacin: This is available as Niacor, Niaspan, and Nicolar. This drug helps in reducing the LDL levels by 5-15%.
Combination medicine can also be used. Example: Ezetimibe with Vytorin. The statin part of the drug helps in blocking the production of cholesterol and non-statin part of the drug helps in preventing the cholesterol from being absorbed in to our system.
List of Medication:
Lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev)
Mode of action: Block the liver from producing cholesterol
Bile Acid Binders:
Mode of action: Decrease the amount of fat absorbed from the food
Cholestrol Absorption Inhibitor:
Mode of action: Decreases the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the food. They also help in reducing the triglyceride levels.
Fenofibrate (TriCor, Lofibra)
Mode of action: Helps the liver in breaking down LDL.
Vitamins and Supplements:
Niacin (Niacor, Niaspan)
Mode of action: Blocks the liver from removing HDL
Omega-3 fatty acids (Lovaza)
Mode of action: Improves HDL levels. It also helps in reducing the triglyceride levels.
These drugs come with certain side effects.
Minor side effects:
Serious side effects:
High Blood sugar
Medicines have to be taken for life. A doctor needs to assess your condition and prescribe the suitable medication.
Natural supplements act as alternate treatment to cut down the cholesterol levels. Certain herbal products can interact with certain medications and lead to side effects. It is better to discuss with your doctor before you start taking these supplements.
Fish oil contains Omega-3 acids and helps in raising the HDL levels.
Herbs like Red yeast rice, Styrinol, Policosanal, Phytosterols complex, Guggulsterones, Garlic, Artichoke lead, Co-Q10 are said to improve HDL levels.
One needs to adapt to the changes and stick to it. The solutions are easy and safe to follow. Agreed, they take time to show their effects. But these solutions save lives. One needs to get serious and should not remain passive about high cholesterol. If the doctor has suggested a few tablets, make sure to take those pills without fail. Exercise on a daily basis and eat healthy!