How Long Does It Take to Lower Cholesterol?

There is no set answer to this question. Everyone’s body is different and changes at a different pace. There is no way to lower cholesterol overnight. Cholesterol takes time to decrease and will not drop quickly. 

Cholesterol is a lipid/fat that is found in the blood. It is a necessity for the body and helps carry out everyday functions. There are two ways that your body gets cholesterol. Your liver makes its own cholesterol and you consume it through food. Only foods that come from animal sources contain cholesterol such as milk, cheese, lard, butter, and meats. 

Cholesterol-lowering medications usually take about six to eight weeks to take effect and must be prescribed by a healthcare provider. Using lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise takes about three months to take effect but could take longer. Your healthcare provider will interpret your cholesterol results and give you recommendations on treatment. The treatment recommendation will depend on your cholesterol levels, medical conditions, and family history.

There are a few types of medications that are used to treat high cholesterol levels. If one type of medication does not work or causes you to have side effects, there are others you can try. Statins are the most common type of medication used for high cholesterol. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol that the liver makes. Side effects to watch out for when starting a statin include muscle pain, nausea, and diarrhea. If you experience these please reach out to the healthcare provider who prescribed the medication to you. 

Table of Contents

What Reduces Cholesterol Quickly?

There is nothing that will reduce cholesterol levels quickly. It takes time for the body to lower cholesterol levels. Cholesterol-lowering medications take six to eight weeks to take effect. Using diet and exercise takes about three months or more to take effect. 

Does Drinking a Lot of Water Lower Cholesterol?

Drinking a lot of water will not automatically lower cholesterol but is a part of a healthy lifestyle. Consuming water instead of sugary beverages is the healthier option. Drinking beverages with a lot of sugar and/or fat in them is not healthy.

Replacing these unhealthy beverages with water may help reduce your weight. Being overweight puts you at an increased risk of diseases such as high cholesterol. However, just drinking a lot of water will not quickly lower cholesterol levels. 

How Long Does it Take to Lower Cholesterol Without Medication?

There is no concrete answer to this question. Using lifestyle modifications to lower cholesterol will normally take at least three months to see effects. Making positive changes to your diet and exercise routine can help lower and manage high cholesterol.

Avoid foods with a lot of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in them. Eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Exercising helps lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels. Both diet and exercise also help maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts you at greater risk for high cholesterol and many other medical conditions. 

Other risk factors that could be raising your cholesterol levels and are bad for your health are smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Unfortunately, there are circumstances when cholesterol cannot be managed with just lifestyle modifications and medication is required. 

Does Walking Lower Cholesterol?

Regular exercise such as walking is one aspect of lowering cholesterol. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. This does not have to be done in one session. For example, 150 minutes could be broken down to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. 

In a 2021 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers concluded that walking helped overweight women lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Another study published in 2021 in the journal Hypertension, concluded that increasing physical activity has many benefits including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. 

How Long Does it Take to Lower Cholesterol With Diet?

Using lifestyle modifications such as diet to lower cholesterol normally takes at least three months to see effects. Having an unhealthy diet puts you at risk of many diseases including high cholesterol. 

If you want to modify your diet to lower cholesterol, first analyze what you are eating now. Are there a lot of refined sugars, animal products, processed, fried, and fatty foods in your diet? These are the types of foods you will want to limit or avoid. 

The American Heart Association recommends the following cooking and diet modifications to help lower cholesterol, 

  • Limit red meats and focus more on seafood. Fish is low in saturated fat and some types are high in omega-3 fatty acids which are good for heart health. Studies have shown that eating seafood that contains omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the risk of heart disease
  • Eat less meat. Replace meat with more vegetables and beans. 
  • Cook fresh vegetables using only a sparing amount of oil or water. 
  • Use herbs and spices to make vegetables more tasty.
  • Use vegetable oils instead of solid fats for cooking.
  • Use pureed fruits and vegetables for baking instead of oils.
  • Eat dairy with less fat such as low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk.
  • Limit fats in sauces and gravies.
  • Increase fiber and whole grain intake in your diet.

How Can I Check My Cholesterol at Home?

There are now at-home cholesterol testing kits available for purchase on the internet and in some drug stores. These tests usually involve pricking your finger to get a few drops of blood. They are faster and more convenient but since they are done at home, errors can be made that affect the accuracy of results. Most of these tests only test total cholesterol while lab testing shows total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

It is important to know all of these numbers in order to know your cardiovascular risks. If you have cholesterol concerns you should be seeing a healthcare provider for monitoring and management of cholesterol. They will be able to order and interpret cholesterol testing for you and make recommendations if needed.  

The cholesterol tests ordered by your healthcare provider are often referred to as a lipid panel. This will test for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. 

All these terms may seem complicated so let’s break them down. Total cholesterol is the measure of all the cholesterol within your blood. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is often called good cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and is often called bad cholesterol. Triglycerides are the fat contained in the blood. 

What Can Cause a Sudden Increase in Cholesterol?

There are some factors that may cause sudden increases in cholesterol such as stress, sleep deprivation, extreme diet changes, medical conditions, pregnancy, liver issues, and alcohol. 

What Are the Warning Signs of High Cholesterol?

There are no warning signs of high cholesterol. This is one of the reasons why keeping up with regular health maintenance is important. Seeing your primary healthcare provider for regular check-ups and getting routine blood work helps catch problems such as high cholesterol before they lead to more serious medical issues.

According to the CDC, almost 94 million adults in the United States over the age of 20 years old have total cholesterol levels that are above the recommended levels. 

When to See a Doctor?

Generally, healthy people with no comorbidities should see their healthcare provider for yearly check-ups. People with comorbidities and chronic health conditions should see their healthcare provider at least every six months and sometimes more depending on their doctor’s recommendations. 

If you fail to see a healthcare provider regularly, you are putting yourself at risk. Having high cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, vascular diseases, and hypertension. 

Get Help From an Online Doctor

Technology has now allowed patients to connect with healthcare providers quicker than ever before. At DrHouse you can connect with a board-certified online doctor in as little as 15 minutes. This is convenient when it comes to getting medical treatment faster. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cholesterol medications take 6 – 8 weeks to lower cholesterol levels. 
  • Lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise take 3 months or more to lower cholesterol levels. 
  • Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption also help lower high cholesterol levels.
  • Limit refined sugars, animal products, processed, fried, and fatty foods in your diet. 
  • Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. 
  • According to the CDC, almost 94 million adults in the United States over the age of 20 years old have total cholesterol levels that are above the recommended levels. 


Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.



on your schedule

Skip the unnecessary waiting room,
see a board-certified clinician now.

Start an Online Visit
Available in 50 states. No insurance needed.
Screenshot of DrHouse Mobile App: Virtual Doctor Appointment in Progress

Prescriptions as needed
Renew or get a new Rx.

On-demand virtual visits
See a physician 24/7.

24/7 care support
We are here to help you.

  • 1

    Download the DrHouse app.
    Set up your free account in a minute.

  • 2

    Start a visit with an online doctor. Wait time is less than 15 minutes.

  • 3

    Get an Rx from your preferred pharmacy. Pick up a Rx nearby or get it delivered to you.

Download our app
Image of a doctor wearing a white lab coat, representing the DrHouse telehealth service