High cholesterol may be the result of an inherited disease or it may result from a diet high in saturated fats. For many people, it is caused by a combination of both a diet high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats and an inherited tendency towards high cholesterol.
2. What treatments are recommended if my level is too high?
The preferred treatment is to adopt a lifestyle that will help lower your levels, one including exercise and a diet that is low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fat. A low-fat diet will usually lower cholesterol about 8%. If diet and exercise alone cannot lower cholesterol enough, drugs are often recommended and usually aim to lower LDL-C levels specifically. Sometimes, two different drugs are used together to treat people with extremely high cholesterol levels. The drug of choice differs for different people although the most commonly used lipid-lowering drugs are statins. Other drugs that may be prescribed include bile acid sequestrants, niacin, and fibrates. Your health care provider will need to take into account your individual situation before prescribing any cholesterol-lowering drug.
4. I haven't changed my diet or exercise pattern, but my cholesterol has gone up since the last time it was tested. Why?
Cholesterol levels fluctuate over time. The measured cholesterol level may differ by as much as 10% from one month to another. It may go up sometimes or it may go down sometimes. These changes are called biological variation and they represent normal variability inherent in human metabolism.
5. My doctor told me I had a high cholesterol test, but instead of treating me, he told me to wait a few months and test it again. Why?
Cholesterol levels fluctuate over time. A single measurement of cholesterol may not always reflect the "usual” cholesterol level. For this reason, it is advisable to have at least two different measurements several weeks to several months apart before beginning any kind of treatment. Treatment is based on the average value.
This article was last reviewed on August 15, 2013. | This article was last modified on February 26, 2015.
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