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High Cholesterol: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. It is needed for many body functions, such as making new cells. Cholesterol is made by your body. It also comes from food you eat. High cholesterol means that you have too much of the fat in your blood.

LDL and HDL are part of your total cholesterol. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol. It builds up inside the blood vessel walls and makes them too narrow. This reduces the flow of blood and can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL is the "good" cholesterol. It helps clear bad cholesterol from the body. You want your good cholesterol to be high and your bad cholesterol to be low. If you do this, you can reduce your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke.

You can improve your cholesterol levels by eating less animal and trans fat and more vegetables. Getting regular exercise can also help. But for some people, cholesterol problems run in the family. If changes in diet and exercise don't improve your cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor about using medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Eat a variety of foods every day. Good choices include fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like oatmeal), dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, soy products (like tofu), and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Replace butter, margarine, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils with olive and canola oils. (Canola oil margarine without trans fat is fine.)
  • Replace red meat with fish, poultry, and soy protein (like tofu).
  • Limit processed and packaged foods like chips, crackers, and cookies.
  • Bake, broil, or steam foods. Don't fry them.
  • Limit foods high in cholesterol. These include egg yolks.
  • Be physically active. Exercise increases your HDL, or good cholesterol level. Get at least 2½ hours of exercise a week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
  • Stay at a healthy weight or lose weight by making the changes in eating and physical activity listed above. Losing just a small amount of weight, even 2.5 to 4.5 kilograms, can reduce your risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You need more help controlling your cholesterol.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.