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Your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist is a healthcare professional with a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of health topics. If you have a question about your health or medication, chances are, your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist knows the answer.

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what is cholesterol

Q: What is cholesterol and what can be done to help keep cholesterol levels at a “healthy” level? 

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood. Your body’s cells need cholesterol, and your body already makes all it needs. But you also get cholesterol from the food you eat.

There are two main types of cholesterol: high density or HDL , which is known as ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps to remove excess cholesterol from the body, and there’s low density or LDL which is known as the “bad” cholesterol because the higher it is, the greater your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

About four in 10 Canadian adults have elevated levels of LDL or “bad cholesterol.”

Fortunately, a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent high cholesterol and help lower the bad cholesterol levels if they’re somewhat higher than they should be. In some cases, diet, exercise and other healthy habits are not enough, and you may be prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication.

Diet is a major factor.

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes can help lower cholesterol-related risks. Overall, it is advisable to:

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains, replacing foods containing saturated and trans fats with poly or mono-unsaturated fats, or opting for low- fat, or non-fat dairy options
  • Be active on most, if not all, days of week
  • Lose weight if you need to, and stay at a healthy weight and
  • Quit smoking.

Your doctor and your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist can help you learn more about heart health risks, and evaluate the benefits and risks of treatment options.

For example, for some people, who, despite embracing positive health habits, diet and exercise, it is still not enough to lower their cholesterol levels, and their doctor may prescribe a medication, such as a statin to help reduce cholesterol levels.

Certain people may have other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, which makes it all the more important to control their cholesterol through a medication, while continuing with a healthy lifestyle.

Until next time, this has been Ask the Pharmacist.

I wish you good health.

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