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Which Risk Factors for High Cholesterol Can I Control?

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Updated June 24, 2013

Question: Which Risk Factors for High Cholesterol Can I Control?
Answer:

There are many circumstances that could place you at risk for having high cholesterol levels. While there are some risk factors you cannot control, there are other things that you can do to modify your risk of having high cholesterol levels down the road. Modifying these risk factors means making a few simple changes to your lifestyle. By lowering your risks of having high cholesterol, you are also lowering your risk of heart disease.

You have the power to change these following risk factors:

  • Smoking – Quitting smoking now can lower your cholesterol levels, as well as help boost your good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
  • Exercise – By adding exercise to your daily routine, you can modestly lower your LDL and raise your HDL, or "good" cholesterol. There are many types of exercise that you can use to lower your cholesterol, so whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a recovering couch potato – there is an exercise regimen out there just for you. Additionally, it will help you to lose weight.
  • Your diet – Modifying your diet can greatly improve your health – and your cholesterol levels. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can help you to keep your cholesterol levels within normal levels. This means minimizing the junk food and fast food in your diet, and increasing your consumption of fresh fruit and veggies.
  • Disease Management – Do you have diabetes or another chronic condition? Some chronic conditions can also cause your cholesterol levels to increase. Managing these conditions will also help you to manage your cholesterol levels.

Sources:

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Heath: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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