My Cholesterol is High- Now What?

Have you been told that you have high cholesterol and are to work on ‘healthy behaviors’ before checking back with your doctor but don’t really have guidance?

The following is a common situation I hear from patients.

A patient sees their family doctor for annual blood work and their cholesterol is slightly high. So, the patient is told that they need to start to pay more attention to their diet and lifestyle or else they will have to go on medication to lower their levels. Sometimes their doctor mentions they will‘keep an eye’ on their cholesterol levels and the watch and wait approach is taken.

What often happens here is that patient is now aware that their cholesterol is a problem, but not many things change in their day-to-day life. They may attempt to make changes, but the changes are not effective or targeted enough at lowering cholesterol. The family doctor in this scenario likely does not have enough time to walk through the specific lifestyle approaches needed to lower cholesterol and certainly not enough time to keep up with the patient’s accountability on a regular basis.

Another result of this scenario is that the patient forgets that their doctor told them their cholesterol was slightly high or the severity of the high cholesterol is not conveyed. Higher cholesterol levels may be one of the many things their doctor mentioned in their appointment. If the patient is unaware that they need to make changes, then no changes are made. Perhaps cholesterol is not even retested, and levels continue to increase and so does the risk for later heart attack and stroke.

This is a huge issue. If cholesterol is high, it is likely not going to lower without targeted lifestyle changes, supplements, or medication. Watching and waiting makes sense sometimes in healthcare, but not in this scenario.

Don’t waste this time waiting around. The next move is action.

To act appropriately in this situation, you need a strategy. A kitchen sink approach may work in terms of a ‘healthy lifestyle’, but this is usually unsustainable and often may feel like too much work.

Find a practitioner to work with who is knowledgeable in this area. Not just in ‘healthy lifestyle’ changes but in a targeted cholesterol-lowering approach.You might need a team. Do whatever works best for you, but at least start. Remember, 1-2 small changes are better than no change. Start small and keep it sustainable.

Not sure what your cholesterol levels are? I suggest you start with prioritizing testing and a discussion around your general cardiovascular risk.

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