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Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. Too much of it can cause serious health problems.

High cholesterol does not cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine such as statins.

Read more on the NHS website.

High cholesterol does not cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

Read more on the NHS website.

You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine such as statins.

Self-care

Eat less fatty food

To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.

You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.

Check labels on food to see what type of fat it has in it.

Try to eat more:

  • oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
  • brown rice, bread and pasta
  • nuts and seeds
  • fruits and vegetables

Try to eat less:

  • meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
  • butter, lard and ghee
  • cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food that contains coconut oil or palm oil

Exercise more

Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.

Some good things to try when starting out include:

  • walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
  • swimming
  • cycling

Try a few different exercises to find something you like doing. You're more likely to keep doing it if you enjoy it.

Stop smoking

Smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

If you want to stop smoking, you can get help and support from:

  • your GP
  • the NHS Stop Smoking Service – your GP can refer you or you can ring the helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England only)

They can give you useful tips and advice about ways to stop cravings.

Cut down on alcohol

Try to:

  • avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week
  • have several drink-free days each week
  • avoid drinking lots of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking)

Ask your GP for help and advice if you're struggling to cut down.

Medical treatments

You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if:

  • your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle
  • you're at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke

Ask your doctor about the medicines you can take.

Statins

Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol.

They reduce the amount of cholesterol your body makes.

You take a tablet once a day. You usually need to take them for life.

Other medicines for high cholesterol

Other medicines may be used if statins do not work or you do not want to take statins.

These include:

  • other tablets – such as ezetimibe, fibrates and bile acid sequestrants (also called resins)
  • injections – such as alirocumab and evolocumab

Read more on the NHS website.