High Cholesterol: Treatment and Self-Care

March 21, 2017

High Cholesterol: Treatment and Self-Care


High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, but there are other factors your doctor considers when determining what your blood cholesterol goal should be and how it will be treated:

  • Tobacco use

  • High blood pressure (greater than 140/90 mm Hg)

  • Family history of early heart disease (father or brother less than 55 years or mother or sister less than 65)

  • Age (men 45 years and older, women 55 years and older)

  • Low HDL level (less than 40)

  • Personal history of diabetes, heart disease or stroke

Some individuals may require the added benefit of medication to help control blood lipids. Even if you do require medications to lower your cholesterol, it is important to continue to eat healthfully and be active. There are many different types of medications. Your doctor will work with you to choose the most effective medication for blood lipid control.

Self-Care Steps for High Blood Cholesterol

  • Eat less fat. Adults should reduce their  total fat intake to 25 to 30 percent or less of   their daily  calories and saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent. This is a major step in lowering blood cholesterol. Eliminating all fat is not necessary.

  • Eat less saturated fat. Saturated fat raises LDL more than anything else in the diet. All animal fats and some vegetable fats -- coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, and hydrogenated oils -- are high in saturated fat.

  • Eat less cholesterol. Cholesterol found in certain foods also can raise your blood cholesterol level. By eating less fat and limiting foods high in saturated fat, you can reduce your intake of dietary cholesterol. The USDA 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends you try to keep your daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less.

  • Eat less trans fat. Trans fat is a type of fat found primarily in processed foods that have hydrogenated vegetable oils. It raises the LDL cholesterol.

  • Eat more dietary fiber. Studies show soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol. Some good sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, dried beans and peas, apples, pears, and carrots.

  • If you are overweight, consider losing a few pounds. People who are overweight often have high blood cholesterol levels. A weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can be beneficial. Use the table below to determine a safe caloric intake for weight loss.

  • Be active. Activity plays an important role in promoting heart health. Aerobic activities, such as swimming, biking, jogging, and cross-country skiing, are especially beneficial. If you are not exercising now, try walking or another activity. Always check with your healthcare provider before increasing your activity level.


March 21, 2017


Well Advised, December 2002 Edition

Reviewed By:  

Carolyn BrownCarolyn Brown RN MN CCRN CNS