What Treatments Are Available For High Cholesterol
Treatment may include:
Addressing risk factors. Some risk factors that can be changed include lack of exercise and poor eating habits.
Cholesterol-lowering medicines. Medicines are used to lower fats in the blood, particularly LDL cholesterol. Statins are a group of medicines that can do this. The two most effective types are atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. Other medicines that lower cholesterol levels are ezetimibe and PCSK9 inhibitors.
Butter And Some Oils The Silent Cholesterol Attack
Butter is a high cholesterol food which is something of a silent killer many people never consider the health implications of eating butter because it seems like such a relatively minor part of their diet.
The reality is the butter you spread on your toast and use for cooking can make a huge contribution to your cholesterol levels.
The same applies to certain cooking oils which contain saturated fats like palm oil.
Now, be careful if you want to substitute butter with margarine though some margarine products contain trans fats rather than saturated fats, which actually stimulate the production of bad cholesterol inside your body.
Ideally you want to find spreads and cooking oil products which made from foods high in unsaturated fats.
Olive oil and olive oil based spreads are good examples.
Preventive Steps For High Cholesterol And Heart Health
When you have high cholesterol, staying heart-healthy requires more than a regimen of statins. Even if youre on medication, it is absolutely essential to make lifestyle changes: Stop smoking , drink alcohol only in moderation, eat well, build exercise into your life, and get to a healthy weight, Dr. Rocco says. Smoking cessation alone can boost HDL 5 percent, while for every 7 pounds you lose, youll see a 1 mg increase in HDL. Regular moderate-intensity exercise raises HDL as much as 6 percent, he adds.
Contrary to prior nutritional information, there is not a clear link between dietary intake of cholesterol and increased cardiovascular risk the focus is on lowering saturated fat and trans fat in the diet. The new 2015 dietary guidelines by the U.S. government removed the limitation on cholesterol in the diet.
Features of a Mediterranean diet include:
- Eating primarily plant-based foods
- Limiting red meat
- Limiting full-fat dairy products
- Using olive oil in place of butter
- Enjoying fish and poultry at least twice a week
Adopting this kind of diet, along with exercise, pays off not just in terms of heart disease, but overall, Andersen says. Its really an anti-aging plan.
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What Makes Ldl Cholesterol Too High
A range of medical and lifestyle factors cause high LDL, including:
- Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, salts, and cholesterol and low in healthy proteins and fiber can lead to high LDL.
- Lack of physical activity: Not getting enough exercise and being sedentary contributes to weight gain and can also push levels up. You may see higher LDL if you don’t get a minimum of 30 minutes a day of activity.
- Weight status: Being overweight or obese greatly increases the chances of developing high LDL. Even modest gains in weight can push levels to unhealthy ranges.
- Alcohol and tobacco: Smoking and drinking are both associated with high cholesterol, among many other detrimental effects on health.
- Genetics: High LDL can be inherited, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH ranges, but those with the homozygous formin which both parents are carriers of the faulty genemay have extremely high amounts of this type of cholesterol.
- Medications: Taking several classes of drugs can lead to spikes in LDL. These include those for heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, certain viruses, and seizures, among other conditions. Talk to your doctor about how these prescriptions may impact cholesterol.
- Health conditions: Diseases and conditions that cause high LDL include type 2 diabetes, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, and hypothyroidism.
Is Ldl Cholesterol Really Bad
Low-density lipoproteins are evil. Thats what you have been told for years, maybe all of your life. Nutritionists, health gurus and doctors, will all tell you that if you keep your LDL cholesterol level low and your HDL level high, you will be a happy, healthy human being. This is partially correct.
LDL is not cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is a type of protein that carries cholesterol throughout your body. You need cholesterol for many health processes, and this fatty-looking substance is literally found in every single cell in your body. HDL and LDL, when they exist in the correct ratio, work together to transport cholesterol to all of your body parts and cells that need it.367
The reason why LDL is seen as a bad cholesterol is because of what happens when you have too much of this protein in your body. LDL can cause plaque buildup in your arteries. Your arteries exist to channel blood from your heart throughout your body.
Healthy, oxygenated blood is needed in high supply by every part of your body. From your head to your toes, from your brain to your feet, you need a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood so you can think, move and exist.
If there is too much plaque in your arteries due to high LDL levels, your heart is not happy.
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Cholesterol: The Good And The Bad Of It
HDL High-density lipoprotein
- Makes up 20%30% of total cholesterol
- The “good” cholesterol
- Moves cholesterol from arteries to the liver.
LDL Low-density lipoprotein
- Makes up 60%70% of total cholesterol
- Main form of “bad” cholesterol
- Causes build-up of plaque inside arteries.
VLDL Very-low-density lipoprotein
- Makes up 10%15% of total cholesterol
- With LDL, the main form of “bad” cholesterol
- A precursor of LDL.
LDL cholesterol. The LDL measurement is usually considered the most important for assessing risk and deciding on treatment. The definition of a healthy level keeps on getting lower. For people at low risk of heart disease, an LDL of less than 100 is desirable, However, people at higher risk of heart disease, an LDL of less than 70 or perhaps even lower is considered “optimal.” Some experts say that an LDL of less than 70 would be a healthy LDL goal for all of us.
Your LDL is computed by plugging the measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides into a: LDL = Total cholesterol HDL . LDL can also be measured directly in a non-fasting blood sample.
You have to fast for about 10 hours before the test because triglyceride levels can shoot up 20%30% after a meal, which would throw off the equation. Alcohol also causes a triglyceride surge, so you shouldn’t drink alcohol for 24 hours before a fasting cholesterol test.
The numbers to know
The Common Good And Bad Cholesterol Levels Myth Is Not True
We have all heard over the course of the last several decades that ones cholesterol level predicts their risk of heart attack and stroke. Patients frequently ask me, How could I have heart disease my cholesterol level is normal? or report to me, I dont have to worry because my good cholesterol is high. As a cardiologist, I have both bad and good news: Your cholesterol level does not matter!
As you likely already know, cholesterol is a type of fat found within all cells and is free floating in blood on molecules called lipoproteins. The two most common of these lipoproteins containing cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein which carries cholesterol to the tissues , and high-density lipoprotein which carries cholesterol to the liver to be flushed from the body .
Cholesterol carried by LDL can invade the walls of blood vessels and lead to inflammation within the walls of these blood vessels. Cholesterol in this way forms the main constituent of plaque which builds up within the walls of blood vessels, in particular within the walls of arteries which carry oxygen-containing blood to the organs such as your heart and brain. This plaque can increase in size to eventually lead to a clogged artery, or the plaque can rupture which causes the blood near the ruptured plaque to clot. In the heart, these situations lead to chest pain , shortness of breath, or a heart attack. In the head and neck, clogging or obstruction of an artery leads to stroke.
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Types Of Cholesterol And How They Work In Your Body
Cholesterol is carried through the circulatory system on two lipoproteins: high-density lipoproteins , often referred to as good cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins , also called bad cholesterol.
LDL is termed bad cholesterol because when there is too much of it circulating in the blood , it can eventually build up in the form of plaque on the walls of your arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. Over time, this narrows the arteries and raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease, notes the AHA.
A high level of triglycerides the most common type of fat in your body can also lead to fatty buildups in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, if combined with high LDL or low HDL cholesterol levels, per the AHA.
Whats The Verdict With Cholesterol Levels
In conclusion, studies have shown that increased levels of LDL-cholesterol in the blood stream put people at greater risk for developing heart disease. Ultimately, HDL-C levels dont seem to be much of a concern, and far more attention should be placed on lowering LDL-C to protect against cardiovascular disease.
For those wanting to find out how to lower LDL-cholesterol levels, I can provide specific strategies to do so. Click here to book an appointment today.
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What Can Affect My Ldl Level
Things that can affect your LDL level include
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise
- Weight. Being overweight tends to raise your LDL level, lower your HDL level, and increase your total cholesterol level
- Physical Activity. A lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can raise your LDL level
- Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL from your arteries, if you have less HDL, that can contribute to you having a higher LDL level.
- Age and Sex. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
- Genetics. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
- Medicines. Certain medicines, including steroids, some blood pressure medicines, and HIV/AIDS medicines, can raise your LDL level.
- Other medical conditions. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can cause a higher LDL level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
High Ldl Cholesterol Diagnosis
A blood test can check your LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol levels. It also measures triglycerides, a type of fat that stores extra energy from your diet. High triglyceride levels can make you more likely to have heart problems.
Lower numbers are better when it comes to LDL cholesterol test results. The general guidelines for adults in the United States are:
- Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter : Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL: High
- 190 mg/dL and above: Very high
If you have a condition like heart disease or diabetes, your doctor might recommend an LDL target of 70 mg/dL or below.
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Which Foods Increase Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Your diet plays a massive role in determining your cholesterol levels. Foods high in trans fats, saturated fats, and salts can be especially dangerous. These include:
- Red meats
- Donuts, cookies, crackers, and other baked goods
- Fast foods
- Chicken with the skin on
- Cured or processed meats
Many food items you find in the store may have trans and saturated fats and high sodium, so make sure to carefully read the nutrition information before buying.
When To Speak With A Doctor
There are few noticeable symptoms of high cholesterol. Emergency symptoms such as a stroke or heart attack may be the only indicator of damage from high cholesterol. This means that regular monitoring by a doctor is essential.
Most people should get their cholesterol checked with a blood test every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screening if you live with any of the following:
- a history of heart conditions
- family history of high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
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Other Tips On High Cholesterol Foods
You may eliminate a bunch of high cholesterol foods and get onto a low cholesterol diet and stick with it religiously, only to sabotage yourself through things that you dont typically think of as food.
Drinking alcohol is a classic example of this. Many people tend to leave their alcohol consumption out of their diet tracking.
This is a mistake, especially if youre trying to restrict your cholesterol intake.
Once again moderation is key with things like alcohol.
Many studies have showed moderate alcohol consumption has a positive effect on cholesterol levels, but binge drinking and excessive consumption has the opposite effect and puts you at greater risk of a vast number of health problems.
Moderate consumption according to many experts is around one glass of wine per day, maximum.
With careful planning its relatively easy to significantly reduce the amount of cholesterol you take in, while still being able to enjoy your favorite high cholesterol foods in moderation.
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Who Should Consider Meds
If you fall into any of these categories, statins are likely to provide a significant benefit , so talk with your doctor about them if:
You already have plaque in your arteries.
Your LDL target will be even lower than 130 it should be at least under 100 mg/dL, and ideally under 70 mg/dL.
You have diabetes.
Anyone with diabetes over the age of 40 should take a statin, since chronically high blood sugar greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Your LDL is super high .
You’re a time bomb. Statins will likely drop your levels way down into a safer zone.
Your age, blood pressure, smoking history, and cholesterol numbers point to a high chance of trouble.
Even if you dont meet the above criteria, you may still have a high risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. Docs figure out how high using calculators that estimate your 10-year risk of having heart disease. If your ten-year risk is more than 7.5%, youd likely be safer with a statin.
Your arteries are filled with calcium.
If the calculator pegs your risk in a lower range, but youre still concerned , you can get a scan to further assess your risk. A CAT scan of your heart, for example, can quantify its calcium burden, or score, and very abnormal results indicate a more urgent need to lower your cholesterol.
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Myth: You Can Lower A Very High Ldl Cholesterol Level Through Diet Alone
If your LDL level is very high, you will need a statin or other cholesterol-lowering drug to bring it down. Thats because your liver makes about 75% of the cholesterol in your body, and diet is only responsible for 25%, Dr. Gillinov explains.
Aheart-healthy diet may lower your LDL somewhat, but the addition ofcholesterol-lowering medication will be important if you have very high LDL anda history of coronary artery disease.
How Do I Know What My Ldl Level Is
A blood test can measure your cholesterol levels, including LDL. When and how often you should get this test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger:
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older:
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
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Myth: Women Dont Need To Worry About Heart Disease
In fact, more women die from heart disease every year than from breast cancer.
Mentend to develop coronary artery disease and have heart attacks at younger agesthan women. But after menopause, the risk for heart attack levels out andis the same for women and men.
Thegood news is that the chance that a woman will survive heart attack hasincreased by 56% due to earlier recognition and management of heart disease,says Dr. Gillinov.
Onereason women arent always diagnosed with heart disease is that many use theirOb/Gyn for primary care and never get a heart examination. Women should have acomplete head-to-toe checkup with baseline heart exams in early adulthood, henotes. This allows for risk factors to be identified and discussed before theyimpact the heart.