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What's the First Step to Lowering My Cholesterol?

What Are the Ingredients for a Healthy Lifestyle? A healthy lifestyle includes:

  • getting to, or staying at, a healthy weight
  • exercising regularly
  • following a healthy eating plan
  • avoiding smoking
  • drinking very little or no alcohol
  • getting enough rest
  • managing stress
  • taking medicine exactly as prescribed

According to the National Institutes of Health, making heart-healthy lifestyle changes may help you do the following:

  • improve your cholesterol levels
  • possibly prevent high blood pressure
  • lower your blood pressure if it's too high
  • reduce other risk factors you may have for heart disease

Even if you already have heart disease or if you've already had a heart attack, taking charge of your life by eating healthfully and exercising may help you:

  • enjoy life more
  • reduce your risk of future heart attack
  • decrease your need for procedures such as angioplasty and bypass surgery
  • extend your life

In its May 2001 guidelines, the National Cholesterol Education Program puts renewed emphasis on lifestyle changes. It calls them therapeutic lifestyle changes, or TLC. A healthy lifestyle may help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease. This includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding unhealthy habits, such as smoking. According to the World Health Organization, diseases of the heart and circulation are largely lifestyle diseases. They have that name because they're often caused by unhealthy habits, such as these:

  • eating a diet high in saturated fat or cholesterol
  • getting too little exercise
  • smoking
  • gaining too much weight

If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart disease, changes in diet and exercise are always part of your doctor's treatment plan. Some people can lower their cholesterol Some people can lower their blood pressure Some people can decrease their risk factors for heart disease or manage their current heart disease through diet and exercise alone, without taking medicine. Medicines and surgery have come a long way in the treatment of coronary heart disease. But changing your lifestyle is still the most effective way to stop the disease from getting worse. Even if you need medicine, you can stay as healthy as possible by eating well and being active. This goes a long way toward getting your cholesterol levels where you need them to be. toward getting your blood pressure to a healthier level. toward protecting or improving the function of your heart. To get the benefits of healthier habits, you need to make them a permanent part of each day.