Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

High Cholesterol Treatment

In general, the treatment for high cholesterol includes weight reduction, exercise, a low cholesterol diet, a low fat diet, high fiber diet, and vitamin supplements. The most common medication used to treat high cholesterol include statins, which lower serum cholesterol levels.

General measures for the treatment for high cholesterol include:

Medications are used when weight loss, change of diet and exercise do not reduce cholesterol levels. The most effective medications used to treat high cholesterol are called statins.

Medications may be recommended when:

Statin medications for high cholesterol:

Additional medications include:

High Cholesterol Diet

Avoid foods that contain animal fat: follow a low fat diet. The human body does not need cholesterol in the diet because the liver produces cholesterol. Extra cholesterol comes from animal fat. Avoid foods that contain animal fat: follow a low fat diet.

Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol:

  • Red meat
  • Cheese
  • Liver
  • Shellfish
  • Egg yolk

Low cholesterol diet:
  • Less than 7% of the day's total calories from saturated fat.
  • 30% or less of the day's total calories from fat.
  • Less than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day.
  • Less than 10 % of calories from polyunsaturated fat
  • Less than 10-15 % of calories from monounsaturated fat

High Cholesterol Drugs

Medications used to treat high cholesterol include:

High Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor

These drugs work by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.

Examples include:

High Cholesterol Bile Acid Resins

Cholesterol-binding resins bind to cholesterol in the intestine, which prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Cholesterol-binding resins:

Side effects of these drugs can include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and high triglyceride levels.

High Cholesterol Combinations

Combination drugs are those that combine the effects of two different drugs to enhance the action.

Examples include:

High Cholesterol Fibric Acid Drugs

Fibric acid medications reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver.

Fibric acid derivative medications:

High Cholesterol Niacin

Niacin, also called vitamin B3, lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. The mechanism by which niacin reduces cholesterol levels is unknown.

Medications that contain niacin:

High Cholesterol Statins

The statins are very effective at reducing cholesterol. Statins interrupt the production of cholesterol in the liver. Side effects include muscle aches and pains, joint pain, and nausea. Statins should not be used during pregnancy or in those who have liver disease. Rarely, statins cause damage to the liver.

Statin medications for high cholesterol:

Some statins are available in combination with other drugs:

High Cholesterol Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of high cholesterol.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for heart disease and stroke?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

High Cholesterol Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat high cholesterol:

Continue to High Cholesterol Home Care

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed High Cholesterol References
  1. Borghi C, Veronesi M, Bacchelli S, Esposti DD, Cosentino E, Ambrosioni E. Serum cholesterol levels, blood pressure response to stress and incidence of stable hypertension in young subjects with high normal blood pressure. J Hypertens. 2004 Feb;22(2):265-72. [15076183]
  2. Morgan JM, Capuzzi DM. Hypercholesterolemia. The NCEP Adult Treatment Panel III Guidelines. Geriatrics. 2003 Aug;58(8):33-8. [12938250]
  3. Schatz IJ, Masaki K, Yano K, Chen R, Rodriguez BL, Curb JD. Cholesterol and all-cause mortality in elderly people from the Honolulu Heart Program: a cohort study. Lancet. 2001 Aug 4;358(9279):351-5. [11502313]
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