Here in America, high cholesterol is a rather common malady. Tell your doctor, and most likely you’ll quickly be given a prescription for a widely prescribed drug called a statin.
That’s great, because statins do what they said they will — lower cholesterol — but they also do a bit more. Some of which will probably be masked in the future with another magic pill.
Statins are a commonly prescribed drug that help lower bad cholesterol (LDL), raise good cholesterol (HDL), and lower triglicerides.
However, like all drugs, statins come with many side effects. Muscle and joint aches, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, liver damage, rash and flushing, and digestive problems are a few, according to Mayo Clinic.
Just this week however, the FDA added a couple more to the list — memory loss (reversible) and an increase in blood sugar levels (not good for diabetics). Luckily, these will now be added to the label.
In 2010, the CDC reported that 50 percent of American men and 39 percent of American women aged 65-74, had been taking statins.
Understandably, the prominent incidences of high cholesterol demand a high usage of statins. But why are so many millions of Americans suffering from this, and what can we do to prevent it?
Mayo Clinic says it best, that lifestyle is “key for lowering cholesterol.” Fortunately, there are a few easy, no-excuse lifestyle and diet changes that one can make to maintain healthy cholesterol levels:
Eat less meat
Animal products are the major source of cholesterol. Red meat is the main culprit when it comes to high cholesterol levels, not to mention saturated fat. Eat less meat, and even less red meat.
Eat more plants
WebMD explains that, “Fruits and vegetables, including whole grains, are good sources not only of heart-healthy antioxidants but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber.” Fiber acts like a sponge to soak up the bad cholesterol. Not to mention, fruits and veggies are hardly a source of cholesterol.
Regular physical activity will not only lower bad cholesterol, but also raise the good!
Ditch the cigarettes
Smoking lowers levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.
Heard this health advice before? That’s because these are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself on a day-to-day basis.
A healthy life comes from healthy habits, and it doesn’t have to be difficult! A salad with dinner, or a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Slowly integrating healthy habits is the only sure way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Start by implementing one this week, your future self will thank you.
How to Lower Your Cholesterol Fast - 11 Tips - WebMD. (n.d.). WebMD - Better information. Better health.. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/11-tips-to-cut-your...
Statin Drugs - Drug Safety Communication: Class Labeling Change. (n.d.). U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHuma...
Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
Statin use is up, cholesterol levels are down: Are Americans' hearts benefiting? - Harvard Health Publications. (n.d.). Health Information and Medical Information - Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/statin-use-is-up-cholesterol-levels-a...
Statins: Are these cholesterol-lowering drugs right for you? - MayoClinic.com. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/statins/CL00010
Reviewed February 29, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith