Are you looking to lower your cholesterol? A healthy diet is a great way to get started. From a dietary standpoint, the best way to lower your cholesterol is reduce saturated fat and trans-fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 5 to 6 percent of daily calories and minimizing the amount of trans fat you eat.1 You’ll typically see these types of fats in fried food, red meat and products made with whole milk. If you’re ready to start eating healthy, meal-planning can help keep you from falling into old temptations. Here are a few tips and recipes to get you motivated!
In 2011–2012, 78 million U.S. adults (nearly 37%) had low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that fall in the range where experts recommend cholesterol medicine or had other health conditions putting them at high risk for heart disease and stroke.1 Cholesterol is a waxy substance your body needs to build cells. So, while cholesterol alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing, having too much in your system increases the chances that cholesterol will start to slowly build up in the inner walls of arteries that feed the heart and brain.
Main Causes of High Cholesterol2
Lack of physical activity
Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
In addition, some people inherit genes that can cause them to have too much cholesterol.
Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol: Contributes to fatty buildups in arteries. Plaque buildup narrow arteries and raise the risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease
HDL (Good) Cholesterol: Carries LDL cholesterol away from arteries back to the liver, where its then broken down and passed from the body. HDL can help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Unfortunately, high cholesterol usually has no symptoms. It’s important as an adult (age 20+) to get tested once every 4 to 6 years.
Treatment of High Cholesterol
Working with your health care provider can lower your cholesterol, which will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lifestyle changes such as eating a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and losing weight (if overweight or obese) are all things that can lower your cholesterol. However, these lifestyle changes may not work for everyone, in which case, there are many medications available. Statins are recommended for most patients, but your doctor may consider other options as well.
If you have any additional questions regarding your medications,
reach out to the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742
Mercado C, DeSimone AK, Odom E, Gillespie C, Ayala C, Loustalot F. Prevalence of cholesterol treatment eligibility and medication use among adults—United States, 2005–2012. MMWR. 2015;64(47):1305–11.
Working one-on-one with a medical professional may improve the rate at which chronic condition patients take their medications correctly, according to a study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. After participating in health coaching for a year, medication rates among patients with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol had increased.
The study looked at patients between the ages of 18 and 75 who had uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The patients were split into two groups, the first receiving health coaching for 12 months and the second continuing with their normal care. At the end of the year, adherence reported by the health coaching group had improved significantly while adherence reported by the usual care group did not improve, and in some cases, worsened by the end of the study.
Patients who participated in the health coaching reporting reported a 23 percent increase in the number of patients who reported taking their medications exactly as prescribed for at least five of the last seven days. The group that had continued with their usual care reported a 5 percent decrease.
Increased patient knowledge, patient counseling and active patient participation are already known to improve medication adherence. Health coaches may have more time to spend with patients, and this may have impacted the participants’ engagement with their treatment and influenced their medication adherence. The health coaches also worked with patients on healthy lifestyle changes, which also may have impacted change.
The study cites statistics about the high cost to the U.S. healthcare system caused by medication nonadherence. About half of medications prescribed for chronic conditions aren’t used correctly, which contributes to more than $200 billion in avoidable costs to the health care system each year.
For more information about how Tria Health works to improve medication adherence among our patients, visit our website.