There are two key people in your health care team, you and your
doctor. You are just as important as your doctor in directing your
health care. Only you know how you feel, what you are doing or not
doing to improve your health, what you expect from your health, and
any difficulties you may be having. It is important for you to tell
your doctor these things so he or she can recommend the best
The first step you should take in becoming an active member of
your health care team is to understand what you are being treated
for and why. Continue to ask questions until you understand the
answer. It is important for you to understand the special diet you
are on, medicines you may be taking, and the tests needed to follow
your progress. Ask about the benefits of medications as well as
possible side effects. If you are aware of possible side effects of
a treatment, you will be able to manage them better. By paying
attention to your health and maintaining your own records, you will
become an active decision maker in your health care.
In addition to your doctor, other health professionals can help
you control your blood cholesterol levels. These persons
- Registered nurses
Registered nurses (RNs) can explain your treatment plan to you,
show you how to take your medication, and help you find other
sources of information and help. As the health care provider you
see the most, nurses are a key resource when you are lowering your
- Registered dietitians and nutritionists
Registered dietitians (RDs) or qualified nutritionists can explain
food plans, show you how to make changes in what you eat, and give
you advice on shopping for and preparing foods and eating out. They
also can help you set goals for changing the way you eat, so you
can successfully lower your high blood cholesterol without making
big changes all at once in your eating habits or in your lifestyle.
Call the National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics of the
American Dietetic Association at 1-800-366-1655 for a referral to a
registered dietitian (R.D.) near you.
- Lipid specialists
Lipid specialists are doctors who are experts in treating high
blood cholesterol and similar conditions. You may be referred to a
lipid specialist if the treatment your doctor is prescribing does
not successfully lower your blood cholesterol levels.
Pharmacists are aware of the best ways to take medicines to lessen
side effects and of the latest research on drugs. They can help you
stay on your drug treatment program.
- Family and friends
Many people need help while making changes in life habits to
reduce their risk; do not be afraid to ask for help from family,
friends, and your health care team. Involve your spouse, family
members, or significant others in your treatment plan. By sharing
your problem and the importance of cholesterol-lowering goals, your
current treatment plan, and your medication schedule, you can get
the help you need to succeed in controlling your cholesterol and
lowering your risk.
Because you have high blood cholesterol you will need to monitor
your cholesterol and other risk factors for the rest of your life.
By discussing your monitoring plan with your health care provider,
both you and your physician will be more likely to stick to this
plan. Several helpful hints are provided in the box below to help
you avoid relapsing to a less healthy lifestyle. If you have a
specific problem that is not listed here, discuss it with your
doctor, nurse, or dietitian.
Record your test results at each visit. Set realistic short-term
goals and write them down. Review your goals during each visit with
your health care provider. Share your goals with your family and
friends. Support is often the key to success. If you find yourself
unable to keep to your plan, write down all of the reasons that you
think are responsible. Next, write down what alternatives you have
if that situation happens again. If you prepare an alternate
strategy in advance, you are more likely to stick to your plan and
reach your goals.
Maintaining healthy behaviors and overcoming
The goal of diet, physical activity, weight loss, and medicine
is to keep your blood cholesterol under control. If you go off your
treatment, your blood cholesterol will go up again--and so will
your risk for heart disease. You need to continue your
cholesterol-lowering therapy for life. Many people find lifelong
changes in diet and activity difficult to manage. It is important
to remember that because you may not always stick with your new
diet or exercise plan, you are not a failure--just human. The most
important part of your new healthy lifestyle is learning how to
overcome these challenges and quickly return to your goal.
The National Heart, Lung and
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
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