The goal of treatment is to reduce the risk of atherosclerotic heart disease. People who get only one copy of the defective gene from their parents may do well with diet changes and statin drugs.
The first step is to change what you eat. Most of the time, the doctor will recommend that you try this for several months before prescribing medicines. Diet changes include lowering the amount of fat you eat so that it is less than 30% of your total calories. If you are overweight, losing weight is very helpful.
Here are some ways to cut saturated fat out of your diet:
- Eat less beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
- Replace full-fat dairy products with low-fat products
- Eliminate trans fats
You can lower the amount of cholesterol you eat by eliminating egg yolks and organ meats such as liver.
It may help to talk to a dietitian who can give you advice about changing your eating habits. Weight loss and regular exercise may also help lower your cholesterol levels.
If lifestyle changes do not change your cholesterol levels or you have a very high risk of this condition, your doctor may recommend that you take medicines. There are several types of drugs available to help lower blood cholesterol levels and they work in different ways. Some are better at lowering LDL cholesterol, some are good at lowering triglycerides, while others help raise HDL cholesterol.
Statin drugs are commonly used and are very effective. They include lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), fluvastatin (Lescol), atorvastatin (Lipitor), pitivastatin (Livalo),and rosuvastatin (Crestor). These drugs help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other cholesterol-lowering medicines include:
- Bile acid-sequestering resins
- Fibrates (such as gemfibrozil or fenofibrate)
- Nicotinic acid
People with a severe form of the disorder may need a treatment called apheresis. Blood or plasma is removed from the body. Special filters remove the extra LDL cholesterol, and the blood plasma is then returned to the body.