High cholesterol: Five medications known to have unexpected effects on lipid levels

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol levels pose a great danger to vascular health if left unmanaged, but a lack of symptoms means many remain oblivious to their condition. Arteries that harden over time can set the stage for major cardiac events. Five common medications, taken for various ailments, are known to have an unexpected effect on cholesterol levels, according to WebMD.

The health body says: “Some drugs may have an unexpected effect on your cholesterol. These include certain birth control pills, retinoids, corticosteroids, antivirals, and anticonvulsants.

“Some medicines for high blood pressure, such as diuretics and older forms of beta-blockers, can also raise your cholesterol.

“Talk to your doctor about any medications that you take. You may need a different dose or another drug altogether.”

Research on the cholesterol-heightening effects of oral contraception found the pills induced changes in the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates.

READ MORE: High cholesterol: The warning signs in your body pointing to ‘excess cholesterol’

The eventual outcome of this is an increase in triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein and insulin levels, which are all markers for heart disease.

“In most women, changes that occur in cholesterol levels due to taking birth control pills, won’t impact negatively on their health,” explains the health platform Private Doc.

It continues: “However, it’s important that the correct type of pills is prescribed for you as an individual.”

The health body adds that cardiovascular risks when taking the pill will depend on a multitude of health factors.

What’s more, the effects of the drug are unlikely to raise the risk of heart disease after periodical use only, but rather long-term therapy.

In other words, while cholesterol levels may see a rapid rise, symptoms of heart disease will take longer to appear.

In fact, studies have shown that people with high levels of cholesterol for 11 years had double the risk of heart disease, compared to those who had them for 10 years or less.

This holds true for all five aforementioned drugs, and other pills linked to high cholesterol.

How to reduce high cholesterol levels through diet

Limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fat, which is found predominantly in meat and dairy products, is imperative.

Other foods to avoid include those that contain trans fat, such as those made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Instead, experts recommend upping your intake of fibrous products such as fruits and vegetables, as these can help drag lipids out from the body.

Exercise is also beneficial in that it increases levels of healthy, high-density lipoprotein in the blood, which drives down levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.

Plant stanols and sterols have also been found effective weapons, particularly when combined with other foods.

These compounds, which are in vegetable oils, nuts, cereals and seeds, block cholesterol by racing against it for absorption.

Oats can also prevent cholesterol from being reabsorbed into the gut and have other known benefits for blood lipids.

Soy products – another key component of the Portfolio diet – have been shown to inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver.

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