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Curbing Your Cholesterol

Too much of the wrong type of cholesterol can put you at greater risk for developing coronary heart disease. Fortunately, there are some natural ways you can keep your cholesterol under control.

Dangerous cholesterol levels can develop as early as the teenage years, and because high cholesterol
itself causes no symptoms, many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high.

“High levels of unhealthy cholesterol can increase the risk of coronary events and is unfortunately occurring in patients at younger and younger ages,” says John Willard, M.D., medical director of Cardiovascular Services at
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. “It is becoming increasingly important to be knowledgeable about dietary and lifestyle choices that could help prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular complications later in life.”

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the most important components of preventing unhealthy cholesterol levels.

“High-soluble fiber is important in regulating cholesterol blood levels. Fiber binds with cholesterol and bile products and blocks absorption into the blood,” says Dr. Willard. “Oats, barley, walnuts, legumes and beans are good examples of high-fiber foods.”

For some people, diet and exercise alone are not sufficient to control cholesterol. Patients with a family history of coronary disease and/or hypertension, or tobacco use may need to take extra precautions, such as cholesterol-reducing medications. The American Heart Association recommends that patients with known vascular disease and diabetes be treated with cholesterol-lowering medications and should be considered for statin therapy unless they have known contraindications.

To find a physician at a Texas Health hospital, visit TexasHealth.org/FindaPhysician or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

(Spring 2010)

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