You probably won’t “feel” it working.
For many health conditions, you can “feel” your treatment working. Medications might help reduce pain levels, for example, or prevent flares of symptoms. Treating high cholesterol is different, however. Since high cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms, you’ll need your doctor’s help to know if your treatment plan is working.
High Cholesterol Treatment
The most common treatment for high cholesterol is class called statins. Research shows that statins help reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, most patients tolerate statins very well and don’t experience serious side effects.
Along with cholesterol-lowering medications, lifestyle changes play an important role. This includes eating a healthy diet rich in fiber and low in saturated fat, exercising regularly, and potentially losing weight.
How to Know if Treatment Is Working
You can’t judge if your treatment is working based on a reduction in symptoms (since there aren’t typically symptoms to begin with). The best way to know if your high cholesterol treatment is working is by visiting your doctor and having a blood test.
A blood test to measure cholesterol levels is known as a lipid or cholesterol profile. It measures LDL cholesterol, as well as HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglycerides. This can show you how well your high cholesterol treatment is working, as well as your current risk of heart attack or stroke.
If your cholesterol numbers are not improving, that might mean you and your doctor need to adjust your dose, evaluate your lifestyle, or try a different medication.
Get more information about cholesterol testing here:
Dr. Tolani is a cardiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- Cholesterol medications. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on December 16 2020)
- How to get your cholesterol tested. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on December 16, 2020)
- Patient education: high cholesterol (the basics). Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020. (Accessed on December 16, 2020)