Blood Cholesterol
Blood Cholesterol

Blood Cholesterol Living With High Cholesterol

Managing high cholesterol at home

Follow up with your healthcare provider 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 provider tells you to do so.
  • Schedule a follow up. Talk with your provider about how often you should schedule office visits and blood tests. If you start taking a statin or another cholesterol medicine, your provider 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 healthcare provider 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 arteries throughout your body. Over time, uncontrolled high blood cholesterol can lead to one of the following health problems:

Your healthcare provider 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 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 provider about your cholesterol levels and your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease. Knowing your level of risk helps your provider decide whether you need medicine to treat high cholesterol and what healthy lifestyle changes to make to lower your risk. If your provider recommends lifestyle changes, focus on a balanced overall diet and ask if any dietary supplements may help.

Cover image for Your Guide to Living Well with Heart Disease

This resource provides information to help heart disease patients continue living a healthy lifestyle and prevent further heart complications

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 healthcare provider gives you statins:

  • Take your statin medicine as prescribed. You should not stop taking this medicine on your own since that can lead to a serious problem or even cause death. Ask your provider if you have any concerns about your medicine or if you would like to stop or change to a different treatment.
  • Ask your provider what medicines, nutritional supplements, or foods you should avoid. Some of these can interact with statins and cause serious side effects or make statins less effective. For example, grapefruit (fresh or as juice) affects how your liver breaks down some statins.
  • Tell your provider about any symptoms or side effects. Sometimes, people report muscle problems while taking statins. If you start having muscle pain, your provider 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.
  • Adults living with HIV may benefit from daily statin useIf you have high cholesterol and live with HIV, ask your provider whether you would benefit from taking statins.
  • If you are planning to become pregnant, talk to your provider about your options. You should stop taking statins about 3 months before getting pregnant. Also, you should not take statins if you are breastfeeding.
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