Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

Things you can do

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) may help you lower LDL cholesterol. The lifestyle changes include diet, exercise, weight loss, and other changes. Your doctor will want you to follow TLC even if you are taking cholesterol-lowering medicine. And medicine will be more effective if you have healthy eating and exercise habits.

  • Diet.Diets to lower cholesterol are low in fat—especially saturated fat—and cholesterol. One of the best things you can do is reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat.
  • Exercise. You may need to change your exercise habits. Regular exercise, or no exercise, affects your cholesterol level and your overall heart health. People who have an active lifestyle have a lower risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) than do people who have a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Weight loss. Excess weight tends to increase your LDL cholesterol level. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kilograms) can lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and cutting calories will help you lose weight.
  • Other lifestyle changes to think about. There are a number of other lifestyle changes that improve cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, and improve your general health.
    • Stop smoking cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Smoking decreases your HDL ("good") cholesterol. Smoking is believed to change LDL cholesterol to a form that promotes the buildup of deposits in the walls of your coronary arteries. Smoking significantly increases your overall chances of developing heart disease, because it damages your heart and blood vessels.
    • Reduce stress. Try to minimize stressful situations as much as possible at work, at home, and elsewhere. You may also ask your doctor for advice on ways to reduce stress.


Other Works Consulted

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2005). Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC (NIH Publication No. 06-5235). Available online:


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last Revised June 18, 2012

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