Can you lower your cholesterol without taking medication?
So you’ve learned that you or your senior loved one has high cholesterol. You aren’t alone.
It is a growing concern across our country. To help manage it, the doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin.
Listening carefully to the doctor and doing what’s prescribed is important for good health, but you may be worried about the side effects of statins.
Is there anything you can you do to avoid taking a statin?
Experts say there just might be.
Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Without Taking a Statin?
One option is to talk to your doctor about ways to lower cholesterol without taking a statin. As you discuss statins with the doctor, it’s important to stay focused on the overall health picture. That includes two serious concerns:
- Heart disease is the number one killer of older Americans.
- Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability for adults over 65 in the U.S.
Cholesterol levels can affect your risk for both.
To help guide those discussions, here are some basic facts about statins compared with other options you might want to explore to help lower your cholesterol.
Facts You Should Know About the Benefits of Statins
According to research compiled by Harvard Medical School, statins:
● May lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 50 percent or more
● May reduce the risk of strokes by up to 31 percent
● May help ward off dementia and protect against osteoporosis
But statins are a class of drugs that often come with serious side effects. These side effects include:
● liver inflammation
● muscle inflammation
● sleep disturbance
● loss of concentration
● nerve inflammation
● impotence in men
With a list like this one, it’s easy to understand why some adults want to explore other options for managing their cholesterol.
Diet and Exercise May Help Lower Your Cholesterol
Following a heart-healthy diet may improve cholesterol levels. So too can exercise.
But do you know what foods make up a heart smart diet? Or what forms of exercise are senior-friendly?
Scientists are finding new evidence every year that the lifestyle and traditions of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea can improve heart health.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
If you love the tastes of Spain, Italy and Greece, then you’re in luck. Olives, nuts, garlic, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados form the backbone of this special eating plan. Fewer servings of meat are also a mainstay, as are beans, legumes, fish and vegetables.
Natural forms of exercise
People that live along the Mediterranean Sea also adhere to a way of living that promotes natural forms of exercise. They walk or bike instead of taking a car. Many spend time tending to their garden each day. The sedentary lifestyle that is increasingly common in Western cultures is rare here.
It is also important to note that few are smokers.
Take Steps to Better Health During Cholesterol Education Month
Since September is National Cholesterol Education Month, it’s a good time to make an appointment with your doctor. Have your blood cholesterol levels checked and ask about what kinds of lifestyle changes you can make to naturally lower your levels.
What else can you do?
Start by eating a healthy diet that’s inspired by Mediterranean-style cooking. Visit our Senior Eats Blog for healthy recipes and nutrition tips for older adults.