Managing cholesterol

Having a good relationship with your doctor and healthcare team is an essential part of managing your high cholesterol. With their advice you can develop a management plan that can help to improve your overall health.

What target levels should I aim for?

It’s important to understand that cholesterol target levels will be different for each individual. Your personal target levels will depend on your overall health including risk factors for high cholesterol as well as family history of cardiovascular disease. Your doctor is the best person to discuss your personal cholesterol target levels. The targets listed below are general guidelines only for people at high cardiovascular risk.

REMEMBER, if you have any doubts or concerns about risk factors for high cholesterol;or if you need to discuss any other health matters, consult your doctor.

Cholesterol target levels for people at high cardiovascular risk2

HDL cholesterolgreater than 1.0 mmol/L
LDL cholesterolless than 2.5 mmol/L
Triglyceridesless than 1.5 mmol/L

What can I do to reduce my high blood cholesterol?

The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to lower your blood cholesterol. Lifestyle changes are a good place to start. For some people with high cholesterol, these changes will not be enough to lower their cholesterol; to acceptable levels. Cholesterol lowering-medication may be necessary. Speak to your doctor about the best way for you to manage your cholesterol.

Lifestyle changes

You can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and manage your cholesterol by making the following lifestyle changes. Changing your lifestyle is easier than it sounds. You just need some good advice and the motivation to change.

See our tips for healthy eating for a good place to start.

Healthy eating

Reducing the saturated fat in your diet is a good first step in helping to lower your cholesterol. There are many other small changes you can make that will have great benefits for your overall health such as; reducing the amount of salt you eat, using “good” oils, eating more vegetables and drinking lots of water. 


Your body is designed to move. Health experts strongly encourage people to be physically active, yet Australians are becoming less active every year1. The National Heart Foundation of Australia recommends you include at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on all or most days of the week.3 

Weight management

It’s not healthy to be too thin or to carry too much body fat. The key is to find a sustainable healthy weight.

Being overweight can increase your risk of a number of health problems including:

  • High blood cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Joint problems eg; gout and arthritis
  • Certain types of cancer6

Check with your doctor to find the weight that’s best for you and then try to achieve and maintain that weight.

Tips on weight management

Think long termFad diets and weight loss programs are often difficult to maintain. If you make lifestyle changes that are easy to maintain in the long term, you are more likely to achieve a healthy weight.
Set a goal you can achieveSet realistic goals. If you make your goals too difficult, you probably won’t achieve them and will end up feeling as if you’ve failed. A realistic goal might be: to lose 2 kilograms in the next 2 months.
Don’t weigh yourself dailyInstead of focusing on the scales, look for other signs of weight loss success; clothes that fit better, becoming more physically active, feeling more energetic, having an improved mood and outlook on life.
Limit high kilojoule food and drink and reduce saturated fatEating fewer kilojoules will help with weight loss and less saturated fat can help to improve yourcholesterol level.6
Be more activeRegular physical activity has a number of benefits, including improving cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and can help to manage weight.7

Drug therapy vs. non-drug therapy

Depending on your level of risk for cardiovascular disease and your cholesterol levels (your LDL-cholesterol level in particular), your doctor will outline the treatment that is appropriate for you.


1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Heart, stroke and vascular diseases. Australian facts 2004. CVD Series No.22, May 2004.

2. The National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, Position Statement on Lipid Management – 2005.

3. Lipid Management Guidelines, MJA 175, 5 November 2001

6. The National Heart Foundation of Australia 2006 Losing weight the healthy way;CE-073

7. The National Heart Foundation of Australia 2006 Be Active Every Day;CE-050

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