The fact that you are reading this means that you already understand how lower cholesterol can be a major contributor in improving your health and well being. What you may need help with is understanding how lower cholesterol levels can be attained, managed and controlled.
As you may already be aware increased LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) is one of the major risk factors for vascular disease leading to heart problems and stroke. There are differences throughout the world in recommended levels of LDL, and your own targeted level of LDL may differ depending upon your present overall risk of heart disease. You can find many references to targeted cholesterol levels.
However my suggestion is to target for an LDL level of not more than 100 mg/dL of blood. Your doctor will also advise you that your HDL level is another key target as well as your triglyceride level. These also have some worldwide differences and I suggest you target at least 60 mg/dL for HDL and less than 150 mg/dL for triglycerides.
If your cholesterol levels are not within these targets then it puts you at increased risk of developing serious and life-threatening health problems.
Your doctor may prescribe medications for you to take in order to control your cholesterol. Usually such medications will fall within one or more of the following functional areas, each of which work in different ways to lower cholesterol levels:
- Statins – they work by blocking an enzyme that is needed by the liver to make cholesterol.
- Bile Acid Binding Resins – one of the functions of the liver is to make bile acids using cholesterol. The bile acid binding resins work indirectly to lower LDL by removing recycled bile acids which then encourages the liver to remove more LDL cholesterol to use in making more bile acid to replenish the shortfall.
- Limiting Dietary Cholesterol Absorption – as dietary cholesterol is absorbed in the small intestine, this medication approach focuses on limiting the cholesterol absorption thereby lowering its overall level.
As with most medications there is risk of many side-effects in this approach which can include impaired liver function, damage to muscle tissue, impaired memory and concentration, depression, nervous system problems, sleeping problems, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, changes in vision, weight change, blood sugar changes, nausea, tinnitus, constipation, joint pain, edema, allergies, and many more.
Therefore before accepting any prescription medication from your doctor be sure to discuss and understand the known side effects. It is also wise to do your own research.
If your cholesterol level presents a very serious risk and you already have suffered from the consequences then you may need to follow a careful medication program under the supervision of your doctor. Equally so if you have other underlying systemic problems. Although that is not the case for the majority of those with elevated cholesterol levels.
For most people our cholesterol level is largely under our own control and it can be managed by our lifestyle choices, particularly in terms of dietary and sedentary habits. If we consider that the liver manufactures most of the cholesterol we need (say 75%) then we should take care not to consume excessive cholesterol in the foods we eat. To take control we need to limit our consumption of animal and dairy products as well as foods containing trans fats and saturated fats. In addition to that we should make sure we have sufficient exercise. The right combination of diet and exercise is all that it takes.
This is easy to understand but perhaps not so easy to do as it involves changes to our personal habits. My website as well as my book can prepare you with what you need to know to effectively manage and control your cholesterol levels naturally and safely.
Once we understand how lower cholesterol is critical to our well being, and then commit ourselves to making the effort to develop proper habits we can support a healthy life and minimize our risk of serious disease.