According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. It accounts for approximately one in four deaths each year. One of the contributing factors to heart disease is high cholesterol, which significantly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. With September being Cholesterol Education Month, let's take a look at what cholesterol is, what it does, how high cholesterol affects you, and what you can do to manage your levels.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring waxy substance made in your liver. It plays a role in several essential functions in your body, including building cells and creating hormones. In other words, your body needs it. Your body makes all the cholesterol you need. You can also get it from certain foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs. While your body needs a certain amount, it’s possible to get too much.
The Effects of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol, whether made by your liver or from your diet, circulates through your bloodstream. You have HDL cholesterol, which is your good kind, and LDL, which is bad. Too much LDL or not enough HDL is what increases the risk that the cholesterol will build up in your arteries, growing the likelihood of health complications which can ultimately result in a heart attack, stroke, and/or aneurysm.
How to Lower Cholesterol Levels
Your doctor can check your cholesterol level with a blood test. While getting a diagnosis of high cholesterol can be scary, there are things you can do to lower your levels and improve your overall health. Your doctor can develop a treatment plan that may include taking a prescription drug and making lifestyle changes.
Common treatments for high cholesterol include:
- Statin therapy with medications such as atorvastatin or simvastatin
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors such as ezetimibe
- PCSK9 inhibitors like Repatha or Praluent
- Bile acid-binding resins like cholestyramine or colestipol
- Eating a heart-healthy diet, which includes a focus on plant-based foods and whole grains (plant foods have no cholesterol), limiting your intake of saturated and trans-fats, and choosing healthy fats (such as those from avocados and nuts)
- Exercising regularly (your doctor can help you determine what types of activities are best for you)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking (if you smoke)
Your doctor may recommend several of the above treatments depending on your unique situation. Following your treatment plan and taking any prescribed medications as directed is essential for managing your cholesterol levels and staying healthy.
Get the Medications You Need to Manage Your Cholesterol for Less
High cholesterol can increase your odds of developing serious health complications. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your levels and minimize those risks. Statin therapy and other medications may be part of your treatment plan.
Medications are beneficial, but they can be expensive. RxLess can help you get what you need for less with a free prescription discount card. Take the card with you to the pharmacy when you drop off your prescription to receive the discounted price. Visit RxLess today to get started!