How can you prevent or treat high cholesterol?

Make therapeutic lifestyle changes by

  • Eating a healthy diet. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats, which tend to raise cholesterol levels. Other types of fats, such as polyunsaturated fats, can actually lower blood cholesterol levels. Eating fiber also can help lower cholesterol.
  • Exercising regularly. Physical activity can help lower cholesterol. The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help lower your cholesterol.
  • Not smoking. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible.

Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions and stay on your medications, if prescribed, to control your cholesterol.

Are there clinical and community programs to help address high cholesterol?

A variety of community and clinical activities address screening and treatment for high cholesterol:

The Million Hearts® initiative is a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States by 2017, by bringing together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private sector partners. Million Hearts focuses on (1) Improving the "ABCS" of cardiovascular health—Aspirin when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation; and (2) Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing or quitting tobacco use and reducing salt (sodium) and trans fat consumption.

All states and the District of Columbia are now funded to address heart disease and stroke prevention, with 32 receiving additional funding to enhance their program and reach more people. This includes increasing quality improvement efforts in health systems, such as using health information technology and team-based care as well as community-clinical linkage to support self-management outside of clinical settings, along with health extenders such as community pharmacists and community health workers.

CDC's National Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program supports states implementing evidence-based practices in community and clinical settings, specifically highlighting cholesterol control within communities.

The National Cholesterol Education Program provides evidence-based resources and recommendations to health care providers, and new guidelines for cholesterol are in development.

For more information about cholesterol and how you can prevent high cholesterol or keep it in check, see "Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol with TLC" from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.6