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High Cholesterol? Look beyond statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Your body needs Cholesterol, a waxy substance found in your blood that is important for building healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Over time, these deposits grow and interfere with the smooth blood flow through your arteries. These deposits may sometimes break off to form a clot that may cause a heart attack or stroke!!!

High cholesterol can be inherited, but frequently it's the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, which make it preventable and treatable.

Raised cholesterol levels especially LDL cholesterol, are believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, not everyone with raised cholesterol develops cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease may occur in some individuals even with a normal cholesterol level.

More often than not, a raised cholesterol prompts doctors to start a statin to bring down the levels. While this helps to reduce the cardiovascular risk associated with raised cholesterol, it does nothing to address the underlying risk factors for raising your cholesterol, and that is still detrimental to cardiovascular health.

What are the risk factors for raised cholesterol?

Age, family history, poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, tobacco, and alcohol consumption are risk factors for an increase in cholesterol levels.

Except for age and genes, the rest are MODIFIABLE

Lack of statin?

Not a risk factor!!!

Lack of other cholesterol lowering medications ?

Also Not a risk factor!!!

So, rather than depending solely on statins and other cholesterol-lowering medication, does it not make sense to modify the risk factors?

What can you do to bring down your cholesterol?

  • Eat a whole food plant-based diet.

  • Limit the quantity of saturated fats and use good fats( nuts and seeds) in moderation.

  • Exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes, and make strength training (click to view post) a part of every exercise routine.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Quit smoking

  • Quit alcohol

Intensive lifestyle therapy can help you to minimize your medications.

Lifestyle modifications may not be very successful at reducing LDL cholesterol in some people e.g. persons with Familial Hypercholesterolemia; however, they can still improve cardiovascular health by reducing the other risk factors. Cholesterol-lowering medication is usually recommended routinely in individuals who are at a greater risk for heart disease and in persons with diabetes, but there is NO JUSTIFICATION for their use without incorporating lifestyle modifications.

Look beyond statins and achieve your cholesterol goals.

  • Total cholesterol<200mg/dl

  • LDL cholesterol <100 (unless high risk...ask your doc!)

Note: The information provided in the blog is general advice. Always consult a doctor for the right lifestyle modification advice for you.


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