Healthy eating and exercise? Medications every day? If you're like most people, you may find it a challenge to take your cholesterol medication every day when you can't even feel a difference. Only about half of people with a prescription for a cholesterol medication actually take it as prescribed. And the diet and exercise changes are no picnic either!

But sticking to treatment is well worth the effort. You're not just changing numbers on your blood test. You may be saving your own life. Effective cholesterol treatment can dramatically cut your risk of dying from heart disease: lowering your LDL cholesterol by just 1.0 mmol/L can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or dying of heart disease by 20% to 25%.

Having trouble staying motivated? Here are some ways to make it easier:

  • Remember why you're doing this: effective treatment saves lives!
  • Use the motivation workbook to help you work through your own personal barriers to making healthy changes.
  • Talk to your doctor about setting treatment goals and how to evaluate the success of your treatment. Knowing you're on track to reach your goals can help you stay motivated.
  • Track your progress with the cholesterol diary.
  • Keep it simple. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about ways to simplify your medication routine. The same idea applies to exercise and healthy eating - don't try to do anything too fancy or it won't stick.
  • Use memory aids. Try using an alarm to remind you to take your dose, or put your medications in a dosette (a plastic tray with compartments for each medication dose) so you can see whether you've taken your pill.
  • Don't try to change all at once. Instead, work towards a steady change at your own pace.
  • Reward yourself. Find a reward that fits with your healthy lifestyle, such as treating yourself to a new book or magazine, going out with friends, or buying some new clothes.
  • Refill your prescriptions early so you won't run out of medication. Your pharmacy may offer a refill reminder service.

Remember, change takes time! Don't be discouraged - if you drop the ball, just pick it back up and keep going. And ask for help if you need it. Your doctor and pharmacist can offer ways to help you stick with your treatment plan.