8 Counseling Tips to Lower High Cholesterol


As retail clinics continue to grow in popularity, patients will be increasingly turning toward retail-based nurse practitioners and physicians assistants for help in lowering high cholesterol.

As retail clinicscontinue to grow in popularity, patients will be increasingly turning toward retail-based nurse practitioners and physicians assistants for help in lowering high cholesterol.

One way to help these patients is through education.

Kristene Diggins, FAANP, DNP, MBA, DCC, CNE, NEA-BC, manager of professional practice for MinuteClinic, toldContemporary Clinicthat retail clinicians walk through 4 basic steps when patients present with high cholesterol:

  1. Educate patients on cholesterol and its link to cardiovascular disease.
  2. Inform them about cholesterol measurement and what their results mean in terms of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density (HDL) levels.
  3. Teach patients about modifiable factors affecting cholesterol levels.
  4. Let them know which factors, in addition to cholesterol, can increase their risk for cardiovascular disease.

After cholesterol screening is completed, retail clinicians can encourage patients with normal lipid profiles to maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors such as exercise and healthy diet.

For patients with abnormal lipid profiles, Dr. Diggins provided the following 8 counseling tips that retail clinicians can use to lower their high cholesterol:

  1. Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
  2. Work toward a healthy body weight and maintain it.
  3. Quit smoking.
  4. Reduce dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat.
  5. Limit dietary cholesterol to less than 60% of daily calories.
  6. Make sure to get enough omega 3 fatty acids by eating foods like salmon, mackerel, sea bass, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables.
  7. Refrain from drinking more than 1 alcoholic drink a day for women or 2 for men.
  8. Lower dietary carbohydrates to less than 60% of daily calories.

Dr. Diggins also noted that patients with diabetes who have the following risk factors should undergo routine cholesterol screenings, according to the American Heart Association: a family history of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, tobacco use, obesity, dyslipidemia, or age over 40.

Almost one-third of Americans (73.5 million) have high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC), and less than one-third of those patients have the condition under control, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Patients with high cholesterol are also twice as likely to have heart disease as those with normal LDLC levels.

The good news is that Americans are seeing a decrease in high total cholesterol. For example, the percentage of adults with high total cholesterol decreased from 18.3% to 12.9% between 1999 and 2012, according to the CDC.

The CDC advises all adults to check their cholesterol levels every 5 years. There is still work to be done, however, as 2009-2010 figures show that less than 70% of Americans ages 20 or older have gotten their cholesterol checked in the last 5 years.

One accessible, convenient place for patients to get their cholesterol levels tested is the local retail clinic.

Retail clinicians can encourage patients to seek treatment for high cholesterol by informing them that lowering cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart attack, need for heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, and death from heart disease.

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