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This information was reviewed and approved by Howard D. Weinberger, MD, FACC (6/30/2019).

High cholesterol levels are treated with diets low in cholesterol, medications, and lifestyle modifications.

There is also increased emphasis on other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes are the most common treatment:

  • increasing exercise

  • avoiding excess carbohydrates and fatty foods

  • decreasing animal products in the diet.

If these lifestyle changes don't produce the necessary result, oftentimes doctors will use medications. Medications such as statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) help to reduce LDL and boost HDL cholesterol. The statin medications are one of the most effective medications for lowering the LDL or bad cholesterol. The statin medications have additional effects that can further lower the chances of a heart attack or stroke. There are also many other drugs and supplements to help with cholesterol.

It is important to note that a healthy lifestyle with moderate physical activity 30 minutes a day combined with a mostly plant-based diet is probably the best, low-cost and most highly effective option as a first step toward improved cholesterol levels.

Medication treatment such as statins control but does not "cure" high blood cholesterol. Therefore, you must continue taking your medicine to keep your cholesterol level in the recommended range.


Six major types of cholesterol-lowering medications are:

  • Statins

    • Lowers LDL cholesterol

  • PCSK9 Inhibitors

    • Lowers LDL cholesterol

  • Bile Acid Sequestrants

    • Lowers LDL cholesterol

  • Nicotinic Acid

    • Lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and raises HDL cholesterol

  • Fibrates

    • Lowers triglycerides and may increase HDL cholesterol

  • Ezetimibe

    • Lowers LDL cholesterol


Treatment Goals

Treatment is tailored to your individual risk of developing heart disease. Some people need to have an LDL less than 100 or even 70 mg/dL, but you and your doctor can work on these plans together. Below is just one example of some treatment goals. As always, consult your doctor for complete information on your individual needs.


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