High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a medical condition in which you have too many lipids (fats) in your blood, ultimately causing coronary problems. High cholesterol may be an inherited condition, but it is often caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 94 million U.S. adults in the 20 years or older age group have borderline high cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the lipids contained in your blood. Although lipids are essential for proper bodily function, an excess of lipids leads to their accumulation in the arteries, forming plaque or fatty deposits.

These fatty deposits cause a progressive narrowing of the arteries and impede blood flow. In some cases, these deposits can rupture and form a clot, causing a heart attack or stroke.

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is carried through your blood by proteins, and the combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. Cholesterol is classified as "good cholesterol" and "bad cholesterol” based on these lipoproteins.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol and  Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol.

LDL contributes to the formation of plaque in the arteries and having elevated LDL levels over an extended period can lead to heart disease.

On the other hand, HDL transports excess cholesterol to the liver, which helps maintain a balance in cholesterol levels. An adequate level of HDL is crucial because it helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries and eventually leading to heart conditions.

Unfortunately, high cholesterol often goes undetected because it does not typically cause noticeable symptoms until things become severe. 

Therefore, it is essential to undergo regular cholesterol screenings to assess your levels and take appropriate measures if necessary.

Risks of High Cholesterol

Several factors can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. These include:

  • Unhealthy Diet: Consuming foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as red meat, full-fat dairy products, fried foods, and processed snacks, can raise your cholesterol levels.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of regular physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and higher cholesterol levels.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of high cholesterol.
  • Genetics: High cholesterol can sometimes be inherited, resulting from a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia.
  • Age and Gender: Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age, and men are generally more prone to high cholesterol than women.
  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease can impact cholesterol metabolism and contribute to elevated cholesterol levels.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking reduces levels of HDL, and alcohol increases total cholesterol levels.

Effect of High Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol levels can significantly impact your health and increase the risk of various medical conditions, including:

  • Atherosclerosis: High cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, narrowing them and reducing blood flow. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease.
  • Heart Disease: Elevated cholesterol levels contribute to the development of coronary artery disease, increasing the likelihood of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Hypertension: High cholesterol is often associated with high blood pressure, which further strains the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of heart-related complications.
  • Pancreatitis: In rare cases, very high levels of cholesterol can trigger inflammation of the pancreas, a condition called pancreatitis.

High Cholesterol Diagnosis

Diagnosing high cholesterol typically involves a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test measures various types of cholesterol and lipids present in your blood. 

The test is usually taken on an empty stomach, and you may be asked to fast for a specific period, usually 9-12 hours before the blood sample is taken.

The test measures your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride (another type of fat found in your blood) levels. 

Your healthcare provider evaluates your cholesterol levels and assesses your overall cardiovascular risk based on the results of the lipid panel. 

Treatment for High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a manageable condition, and you can take proactive steps to keep it under control. Here are some effective strategies for managing high cholesterol:

  • Follow a healthy diet. Adopt a heart-healthy eating plan that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol-rich foods, and processed snacks.
  • Get regular exercise. Engage in regular physical activity to help improve cholesterol levels, promote weight loss, and boost cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
  • Take prescribed cholesterol medications. In some cases, lifestyle changes alone may not be sufficient, and your healthcare provider may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins, to help manage your cholesterol levels.
  • Stop smoking. Quit smoking or avoid tobacco use altogether, as smoking damages blood vessels, reduces good cholesterol (HDL), and increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Follow a weight management plan. Maintain a healthy weight through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise, as excess weight contributes to high cholesterol levels.
  • Monitor your cholesterol levels regularly. Schedule routine check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your cholesterol levels and make any necessary adjustments to your cholesterol management plan.

Making healthy lifestyle choices and working closely with your healthcare team is essential in maintaining optimal cholesterol levels and promoting overall well-being.

Managing High Cholesterol Levels in Longmont, CO

At Lions OpTimal Health, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive care and support for high cholesterol. Our team of experienced professionals will work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and helps you achieve optimal health. 

We are committed to providing the highest standard of care throughout your journey to improved health.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward managing your health effectively. Call us at (720) 645 4241 or request a consultation online.

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