Treatment options for high cholesterol 

Treatment
Pros
Cons

Useful links

 

Lifestyle changes

Healthy diet

healthy diet that's low in saturated fats can reduce your level of LDL (bad cholesterol).

  • Many other health benefits gained by having a healthier diet.
  • No need for medication with associated side effects.
  • None.
Quit smoking

Cigarettes contain a chemical called acrolein which prevents HDL (good cholesterol) from removing LDL from the body.

  • Many other health benefits gained by quitting smoking.
  • No need for medication with associated side effects.
  • None.
Regular exercise

Increasing the amount of exercise you do helps to stimulate the body into moving LDL to the liver, so it can be broken down. This increases the amount of HDL in the body.

  • Many other health benefits gained by exercising regularly.
  • No need for medication with associated side effects.
  • None.

Cholesterol-lowering medication

Statins

Statins are cholesterol-lowering medications. They work by reducing the amount of LDL produced by the liver.

  • May reduce the chance of a heart attack or a stroke in someone at risk.
  • May be used to treat high cholesterol that runs in the family (familial hypercholesterolaemia).
  • Not suitable for people with a history of liver disease.
  • Shouldn't be taken if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Must be taken for life.
  • Side effects can include muscle pain and stomach problems.
Aspirin

Aspirin is an antiplatelet medicine which lowers the risk of clots forming in the blood. This reduces your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

  • May help to reduce the chance of a heart attack or stroke in someone at risk.
  • May help to reduce the chance of blood clots forming.
  • Not suitable for people with a history of stomach ulcerskidney disease and/or liver disease.
  • Usually taken for life.
  • Side effects can include stomach problems and internal bleeding.
Ezetimibe
Ezetimibe is a medication that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food and bile juices in your intestines into your blood.
  • May help to lower the amount of cholesterol in the body.
  • Unlikely to cause side effects when taken by itself.
  • May be taken in combination with other cholesterol-lowering medication.
  • Not as effective as statins.
  • Side effects when taken with other medication can include muscle pain and stomach problems.
  • Not suitable if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or if you have a history of liver disease.