The Basics of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body. Having high “bad” cholesterol means you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries and prevent the blood from getting to your heart. HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol. It carries LDL cholesterol away from your artery walls.
Here is some basic information you should know about cholesterol:
- Too much cholesterol in the blood, or high cholesterol, can be serious. People with high cholesterol are at risk of getting heart disease. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Did you know, 80% of people who have had a heart attack have high cholesterol?
- Only about 25% of cholesterol comes from the foods you eat. The other 75% is made by the body. Factors such as age and family history affect how much cholesterol your body makes. For 2 out of 3 people with high cholesterol, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough, and a cholesterol-lowering medicine, like LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets, may be necessary
- People with high cholesterol usually have no symptoms. But it can be detected with a blood test. These tests can also help your doctor predict what your risk for heart disease may be
What Should My Cholesterol Numbers Be?
Your doctor knows best when it comes to your cholesterol goals, and he or she will be your partner in reaching them. National guidelines say a person’s total cholesterol number should be under 200, while 220–239 is considered borderline high, and 240 or above is considered high.
National guidelines also provide direction on LDL cholesterol, part of total cholesterol and the main focus of cholesterol-lowering therapy. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol may put you at risk for heart disease. Generally, your LDL cholesterol should be below 160, if you have no other risk factors for heart disease. Managing and lowering your LDL cholesterol then helps to further reduce your risk.
If you have heart disease or diabetes, or risk factors for heart disease, your nationally recommended LDL cholesterol number may differ:
Be sure to work with your doctor to determine the LDL cholesterol goal that is right for you and your risk factors. Risk factors include age, smoking, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, or family history of heart disease.
Lowering your bad cholesterol is a lifelong job, and it takes hard work. Getting daily exercise and eating low-fat foods are two very important ways to fight high cholesterol. Still, for 2 out of 3 people with high cholesterol, diet and exercise may not be enough.
If you haven't been successful in lowering your bad cholesterol on your own, it's important you talk with your doctor. LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are one of many treatment options to help manage your cholesterol.
Along with a low-fat diet, LIPITOR is clinically proven to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol by 39% to 60% (average effect depending on dose).
The Lipitor For You program provides helpful tips about adopting healthy habits to manage your high cholesterol levels. Visit the Lipitor For You and Smart Living website at LipitorSmartLiving.com to view more information on how you can blend healthy habits into your daily life.
LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are not for everyone, including anyone who has previously had an allergic reaction to LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets. It is not for those with liver problems. And it is not for women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant.
If you take LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets, tell your doctor if you feel any new muscle pain or weakness. This could be a sign of rare but serious muscle side effects. Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and all medications you take. This may help avoid serious drug interactions. Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver function before starting LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets and during your treatment if you have symptoms of liver problems. Tell your doctor if you have diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels have been reported with statins, including LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets.
Common side effects are diarrhea, upset stomach, muscle and joint pain, and changes in some blood tests.