The Word on Cholesterol Down Down Down

Preventing heart disease is like dancing the limbo: You’ve got to find out “how low you can go.” Study after study has shown that when you lower your cholesterol, you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, America’s leading killer.

Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) is relatively simple. Drugs called statins really work. People who can’t tolerate statins have options, too, such as alternative medications and lifestyle changes. In Cleveland Clinic’s Preventive Cardiology program, a long-term study of its patients showed significant improvements in LDL management – even as early as the second follow-up visit – for both patients taking statins and those who are statin intolerant.

Lowering your cholesterol using lifestyle changes can be easy because there’s no mystery about where LDL comes from. You eat it. It’s in your hamburger, French fries, ice cream and everything else you already know is bad for you. You also can lower your cholesterol by engaging in a physical activity that raises your heartbeat and makes you breathe harder. Try walking, running and bike riding. Exercise six, even seven, days a week.

Lowering cholesterol is one of the few great investments left in our troubled world. A recent study has shown that for every 1 percent you lower your LDL, you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 2 percent. You can’t beat that: It’s a double return.

For an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s Preventive Cardiology program, please call 800.890.2467. Or try Cleveland Clinic’s remote Nutrition Counseling service.

Where do you start?

Visit your doctor. Get a “lipid profile,” which measures the cholesterol in your blood. You should get one of these every year beginning at about age 20, but any age is good to start. This test puts a number to both your LDL and HDL cholesterol. Make these numbers your goal:

LDL – lower than 100 (or 70 if you already have heart disease)
HDL – higher than 45