Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

Things you can do

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) may help you lower LDL cholesterol. The lifestyle changes include diet, exercise, weight loss, and other changes. Your doctor will want you to follow TLC even if you are taking cholesterol-lowering medicine. And medicine will be more effective if you have healthy eating and exercise habits.

  • Diet. Diets to lower cholesterol are low in fat—especially saturated fat—and cholesterol. One of the best things you can do is reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat.
  • Exercise. You may need to change your exercise habits. Regular exercise, or no exercise, affects your cholesterol level and your overall heart health. People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) than do people who have a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Weight loss.Excess weight tends to increase your LDL cholesterol level. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kilograms) can lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and cutting calories will help you lose weight.
  • Other lifestyle changes to consider.There are a number of other lifestyle changes that improve cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, and improve your general health.
    • Stop smoking cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking decreases your HDL ("good") cholesterol. Smoking is believed to change LDL cholesterol to a form that promotes the buildup of deposits in the walls of your coronary arteries. Smoking increases your overall chances of developing heart disease significantly, because it damages your heart and blood vessels.
    • Reduce stress. Although the connection is not clear, some studies suggest that long-term stress can increase your cholesterol levels. It may be that stress increases your cholesterol levels indirectly. So try to minimize stressful situations as much as possible at work, at home, and elsewhere. You may also ask your doctor for advice on ways to reduce stress.

Credits

Author Robin Parks, MS
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last Updated July 11, 2008

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