Reduce Cholesterol: How to do it, How long it takes

The best ways to reduce cholesterol, and how long it takes

Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level helps to prevent heart disease. A person with high LDL cholesterol can use a combination of diet and habit changes to lower their LDL cholesterol to a healthy level over time.

The body needs some cholesterol to function normally. However, too much cholesterol – especially low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

People concerned about their cholesterol may wonder how to reduce cholesterol in 30 days. However, cholesterol reduction takes time, and most research looks at cholesterol changes over many months.

People hoping to naturally reduce their cholesterol can steadily lower their cholesterol with a number of healthy lifestyle changes.

This article looks at what cholesterol is, how it affects health, how long it takes to reduce cholesterol, normal and high cholesterol levels, and the best ways to lower cholesterol.

What is cholesterol and how does it affect health?

The liver naturally produces cholesterol, which is a fatty substance that helps the body make hormones and digest fatty foods.

There is also cholesterol in animal-based foods, such as eggs and meat. The body does not need cholesterol from food, and can naturally manufacture the cholesterol it needs.

Cholesterol tests measure two types of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): This type of cholesterol is what many people consider the “bad” kind. High levels of LDL can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries, and other heart health issues.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): This “good” cholesterol can help remove cholesterol and carry it back to the liver. Higher levels of HDL may lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Total cholesterol is a measure of HDL plus LDL and also triglycerides.

If a person has low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, their risk of heart disease is higher.

How long does it take to reduce cholesterol?

Cholesterol drops over time, not suddenly, after a few days of healthier living. There is no set period in which cholesterol is guaranteed to drop.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs usually produce a change in LDL within 6 to 8 weeks. It is possible for lifestyle changes to change cholesterol levels within weeks. However, it may take longer, usually about 3 months — sometimes more.

Some doctors recommend  adding a cholesterol-lowering drug if a person has not lowered their LDL cholesterol after about 12 weeks of lifestyle changes.

What is a normal cholesterol level?

For most people, healthy cholesterol levels are as follows:

  • Total cholesterol: less than 200 milligrams per deciliter
  • LDL “bad” cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL “good” cholesterol: higher than 60 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL

According to an article in the journal Circulation, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend using statins to lower cholesterol in people with cholesterol higher outside of these levels.

However, they also recommend doctors consider a person’s cholesterol levels and overall risk of cardiovascular disease before prescribing a cholesterol-lowering medication.

The AHA recommends that people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease get high-intensity statin therapy maximally tolerated statin therapy to lower LDL by at least 50%.

The AHA also recommends high-intensity statin therapy for individuals with severe primary hypercholesterolemia (LDL greater than OR equal to 190 mg/dL).

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