Blood Cholesterol Living With
Managing high cholesterol at home
Follow up with your doctor regularly to see how well your treatment is working, whether you need to add or change medicines, and whether your health condition has changed.
- Take all medicines regularly, as prescribed. Do not change the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless your doctor tells you to.
- Schedule a follow up. Talk with your doctor about how often you should schedule office visits and blood tests. If you start taking a statin or another cholesterol medicine, your doctor may order a lipid panel 1 to 3 months later to see whether the drug is working. Repeat tests may be done every 3 to 12 months after that to make sure your cholesterol levels remain healthy.
- Call your doctor if you have any symptoms of complications or if you have problems with your blood pressure or blood sugar.
How high blood cholesterol may affect your health
Undiagnosed or untreated high blood cholesterol can lead to serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke.
High blood cholesterol can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up in the blood vessels throughout your body. Over time, uncontrolled high blood cholesterol can lead to one of the following health problems:
- Cardiac arrest
- Carotid artery disease
- Coronary heart disease. You may feel chest pain (called angina)
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease
Your doctor may use a risk calculator to estimate the chances of having one of these health problems in the next 10 years or over your lifetime. For example, the Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) Estimator considers your cholesterol levels, age, sex, race, and blood pressure. It also factors in whether you smoke or take medicines to manage your high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Talk with your doctor about your cholesterol levels and your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease. Knowing your level of risk helps your doctor decide whether you need medicine to treat high cholesterol and what healthy lifestyle changes you may need to make to lower your risk.
High blood cholesterol can lead to serious cardiovascular complications, such as heart attack or stroke. If you think that you are or someone else is having symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Every minute matters.
Learn how to stay safe while taking statins
Statins are the most common medicine used to treat high blood cholesterol. Learn some tips to stay safe if your doctor gives you statins.
- Take your statin medicine as prescribed. You should not stop taking this medicine on your own, because that can increase your risk for a repeat event or even death. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns about your medicine or if you would like to stop or change to a different treatment.
- Ask your doctor what medicines, nutritional supplements, or foods you should avoid. Some of these can interact with statins to cause serious side effects or make them less effective. For example, grapefruit (fresh or as juice) affects how your liver breaks down some statins.
- Tell your doctor about any symptoms or side effects. Sometimes, people report muscle problems while taking statins. If you start having muscle pain, your doctor may order a blood test to look for muscle damage. The pain may go away if you switch to a different statin. Muscle damage with statins is rare, and your muscles may heal when you switch to a different medicine.
- If you are planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your options. You should stop taking statins about three months before getting pregnant. Also, you should not take statins if you are breastfeeding.