- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Organ transplants
Lowering your cholesterol
High cholesterol can put you at high risk for cardiovascular disease, so it is important to take the appropriate steps to keep your cholesterol under control. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the following tips for lowering cholesterol and cardiovascular risk:
- Quit smoking
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Focus on eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Eat a low-salt diet
- Choose poultry, fish, and plant-based foods instead of red meats
- Start making 30 minutes of exercise a daily routine
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
- Manage stress
When to see a doctor
Because high cholesterol has no symptoms, it’s important to communicate with your doctor. A blood test is the only way to detect if you have it.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a person’s first cholesterol screening should occur between the ages of 9 and 11, and then be repeated every five years after that.
Most healthy adults over 21 should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. For men ages 45 to 65 and for women ages 55 to 65 the recommendation is every one to two years. People over 65 should receive cholesterol tests annually, according to NHLBI recommendations.
If your test results aren’t within desirable ranges, your doctor may suggest that you receive more-frequent measurements.
Your doctor might also suggest more-frequent tests if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Your doctor may also advise you to make lifestyle changes. This can include possible changes to your medication to help lower cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular risk.