HomeExclusiveWhen To See A Doctor For High Cholesterol

When To See A Doctor For High Cholesterol

Reasons You May Want To See A Cardiologist

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Most patients think about seeing a doctor when they dont feel well but may put it off, or they may wait for an annual physical with their family care doctor to ask questions about any physical pains or symptoms. But how severe should the symptoms be before you see a heart specialist ? How can you tell if someone you love should see a cardiologist?

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

How Long Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol

Overview

Your cholesterol levels are directly tied to your heart health, which is why its so important to make sure theyre in a healthy range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , reports that 78 million adults in the United States had high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad cholesterol, in 2012. The organization also states that people with high LDL cholesterol are at a much higher risk of heart disease.

Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Womens Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says it can take between three to six months to see lower LDL numbers through just diet and exercise, noting that it takes longer to see changes in women than men.

Read on for more information on how to lower your LDL levels.

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Take Your Medicines Properly

Some people find it hard to take their medicines properly. If you do take medicine, it is important to use it the right way.

Some people don’t see why they should take medicines every day when they don’t feel sick. Cholesterol doesn’t make you feel sick. But it’s important to take your statin medicine, because it can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Some side effects are more likely and may be worse when you use higher doses of statins. If you’re having side effects, tell your doctor. You may be able to take a different statin.

For more information, see:

Be sure to tell your doctor everything you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicine, and natural health products. Sometimes they can interact with other medicines and cause problems.

If you have trouble taking your medicine for any reason, talk to your doctor.

When To Call A Doctor

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High cholesterol usually has no symptoms. Sometimes the first sign that you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease is a heart attack, a stroke, or a transient ischemic attack . If you have any symptoms of these, 911 or other emergency services.

Heart attack symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.
  • Light-headedness or sudden weakness.
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat.

After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

Nitroglycerin. If you typically use nitroglycerin to relieve angina and if one dose of nitroglycerin has not relieved your symptoms within 5 minutes, call 911. Do not wait to call for help.

Women’s symptoms. For men and women, the most common symptom is chest pain or pressure. But women are somewhat more likely than men to have other symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain.

Stroke and TIA symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

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What Are Risk Factors For High Blood Cholesterol

Lifestyle, some health conditions, and family history can raise your risk for high cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest you have your cholesterol checked more often if you have risk factors, such as the following:

  • A family history of heart disease or high blood cholesterol. You are more at risk of having high cholesterol if other people in your family have it. This may be due to genetics, but it may also be that families share the same unhealthy lifestyle habits. Some people also have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, which can cause high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol from a young age.
  • Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes raises bad cholesterol and lowers high-density lipoprotein , or good, cholesterol, raising the risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Older age. As you age, your body cant clear cholesterol as well as it used to.
  • Being male. Men tend to have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels than women do. But after menopause , LDL cholesterol levels in women increase.4,5
  • Having overweight or obesity. Excess weight, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity can lead to high cholesterol.
  • Previously having had high cholesterol. If you have a history of high cholesterol, your doctor may want you to keep a closer watch on your cholesterol.

Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test.

Symptoms Of High Blood Cholesterol And Triglycerides

High cholesterol typically doesnt cause any symptoms. Symptoms may only appear after the increased cholesterol has caused significant damage.

For instance, symptoms may come in the form of heart disease symptoms, such as chest pain or nausea and fatigue. A heart attack or stroke may result from uncontrolled cholesterol, among other things.

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When To See A Doctor

If you notice a gradual change in your vision, its important to tell your eye doctor. An eye exam can help them pinpoint what is causing your eyesight to change.

Some of the eye conditions that are related to high cholesterol, including xanthelasma and arcus senilis, do not typically cause vision changes.

If you experience a sudden loss in vision or you are seeing floaters for the first time, make an urgent appointment with your eye doctor. If your eye doctor is not available, go to the emergency room.

How To Limit Sugar In Your Diet

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A sugary diet can spell trouble, not only for your cholesterol levels, but also your overall health. Limiting added sugars will help cut down on empty calories and can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is good for heart health.

While your body doesnât need sugars to work well, eating small amounts wonât harm your health. Women should limit themselves to 6 teaspoons per day. Men should shoot for 9 teaspoons each day.

If youâre looking to cut down on sugar in your diet, you can:

  • Limit foods with added sugars like candy, cakes, or cookies.
  • Cut back on sweetened soft drinks and sodas.
  • Avoid refined carbs like white bread and pasta.
  • Drink fewer alcoholic beverages.

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Why Do I Have High Cholesterol

For many people, lifestyle plays a big role in the development of the condition. Its often due to a combination of diet and how active you are, as well as your genetic capacity to produce cholesterol, says Raj Khandwalla, MD, cardiologist and director of digital therapeutics at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Being overweight and smoking can also increase your chances of developing high cholesterol.

When Should High Cholesterol Be Treated With Medication

If youve had a heart attack, stroke, or have diabetes or been diagnosed with inherited high cholesterol, youll need to take one or more cholesterol-lowering medications, in addition to being careful with your diet and staying active. Statins can have a tremendous impact for lowering LDL cholesterol, says Khandwalla. Statins decrease your risk of illness and dying if youre in one of these high-risk groups.

In addition to statins, which should always be used first, other cholesterol-lowering drugs include fibrates, niacin, PCSK9 inhibitors, bile-acid sequestrants, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors, according to the CDC.

If you found out your cholesterol was high after a routine checkup, discuss your test results with your doctor. Your doctor will calculate your individual risk of heart attack or stroke to decide if you should be on a statin.

In some cases, the doctor may recommend giving a healthy diet and active lifestyle a try first. However, if your cholesterol levels remain high, you may need a heart scan to look for plaque buildup in your arteries, and your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs to lower your heart-disease and stroke risk.

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What Is Hypercholesterolemia

Hypercholesterolemia is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is part of all animal cells. It is essential for many of the bodys metabolic processes including the production of hormones, bile and vitamin D. Cholesterol is produced by the liver and the body is very good at making enough for its own requirements without supplementing through dietary intake. There are two main types of cholesterol, HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad cholesterol. If you have too much bad cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries causing hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. It is usually a slow process that gets worse as you get older but can lead to serious problems, including heart attack and stroke.

Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood may be a consequence of diet, obesity, inherited diseases, or the presence of other diseases such as diabetes and underactive thyroid. Lifestyle changes such as more exercise and reducing saturated dietary fat is recommended to reduce total blood cholesterol and LDL in adults. However, in people with genetic/family history causes, diet is often insufficient to achieve the desired lowering of LDL and medications which reduce cholesterol production or absorption are usually required.

Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above the recommended target level. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.

Causes Of High Cholesterol

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Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Other lifestyle factors can also contribute to high cholesterol. These factors include inactivity and smoking.

Your genetics can also affect your chances of developing high cholesterol. Genes are passed down from parents to children. Certain genes instruct your body on how to process cholesterol and fats. If your parents have high cholesterol, youre at higher risk of having it too.

In rare cases, high cholesterol is caused by familial hypercholesterolemia. This genetic disorder prevents your body from removing LDL. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, most adults with this condition have total cholesterol levels above 300 mg/dL and LDL levels above 200 mg/dL.

Other health conditions, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, may also increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and related complications.

You may be at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol if you:

  • are overweight or obese

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What Do The Test Results Mean

If you get a lipid profile test, the results will show 4 numbers. A lipid profile measures:

  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Total cholesterol is a measure of all the cholesterol in your blood. It’s based on the LDL, HDL, and triglycerides numbers.

LDL cholesterol is the bad type of cholesterol that can block your arteries so a lower level is better for you.

HDL cholesterol is the good type of cholesterol that helps clear LDL cholesterol out of your arteries so a higher level is better for you. Having a low HDL cholesterol level can increase your risk for heart disease.

Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Ldl Cholesterol Or Bad Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein is often called bad cholesterol. It carries cholesterol to your arteries. If your levels of LDL cholesterol are too high, it can build up on the walls of your arteries.

The buildup is also known as cholesterol plaque. This plaque can narrow your arteries, limit your blood flow, and raise your risk of blood clots. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.

According to the

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What Are Early Signs Of Fh

When you have FH, early detection of high cholesterol levels is key to getting the treatment that can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to family history of early cardiovascular problems, you may also notice lumps forming under your skin.

These fatty deposits are called xanthomas, and are particularly noticeable around tendons in the hands, knees, Achilles tendons and elbows, and under the skin around your eyes. Sometimes an ophthalmologist may spot signs of cholesterol deposits in your eyes as well.

Whether or not you have obvious signs of high cholesterol, you should get checked if heart disease runs in your family. Talk to your family doctor about your concerns a simple blood test is all it takes to see if your cholesterol levels are in the healthy range. A high cholesterol level at a young age is a particular red flag that you may have FH. If your doctor suspects you have the condition, you can undergo genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis.

How Is A Lipid Disorder Diagnosed

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To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will order a blood test called a lipid profile, or lipid panel. This test measures your total cholesterol and triglycerides. Before this test, your doctor will likely ask you to avoid eating and drinking liquids other than water for at least 8 to 12 hours.

The lipid profile measures cholesterol in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter . Your total cholesterol level should be no higher than 200 mg/dL. Learn how to understand your cholesterol results.

A combination of medications and lifestyle changes is a common treatment plan to correct high cholesterol and triglycerides. Your doctor may also suggest certain supplements.

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How Often Should Cholesterol Be Checked

The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years as long as their risk remains low. After age 40, your health care professional will also want to use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

People with cardiovascular disease, and those at elevated risk, may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often.

Your doctor will explain what your cholesterol levels mean and can discuss treatment options if your numbers are not where they should be.

Then I Was Diagnosed With Cancer

My life was completely upended in June 2013, when I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had to have surgery and then go through six months of chemotherapy.

The type of chemo I needed used a drug nicknamed “the red devil.” You can probably imagine how awful the side effects are. One of those is liver damage.

With that nasty side effect in mind, one of the first things my doctor did was take me off the statin. The cancer was a much bigger threat to my health, and they didn’t want any unnecessary medical strain on my body.

For my part, I decided to do whatever I could to fight the cancer, and that included overhauling my lifestyle. I switched to a less-stressful job, I started eating healthier, and then I added exercise once I’d recovered enough from the chemo.

A year later, I was cancer free. I’d lost 50 pounds. And as an added bonus, my cholesterol was finewithout the statins.

Without intending to, I’d proven to myself that it was possible to manage my high cholesterol simply through lifestyle changes.

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The tricky thing with high cholesterol is the symptoms can be hard to spot, and instead sudden emergency events, like a heart attack, reveal the issue. High cholesterol is sometimes even nicknamed the silent killer for this reason. Do you know this surprising sexual symptom that could mean you have high cholesterol?

What Do Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean

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Your numbers help your doctor know your risk of getting heart disease or having a heart attack or stroke. But it’s not just about your cholesterol. Your doctor uses your cholesterol levels plus other things to calculate your risk. These include:

  • Your blood pressure.

For more information, see the topic Heart Attack and Stroke Risk Screening.

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Mayo Clinic Q And A: Medications For High Cholesterol

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have high cholesterol, but I can’t take statin drugs. Are there any new medications that I should consider?

ANSWER: Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in the fats in your blood. When you have too much cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits, or lipids, in your blood vessels that can make it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries. An estimated 29 million adults in the U.S. have high cholesterol.

While medications known as statins are common for people with high cholesterol, many people find they cannot tolerate statins, so don’t feel like you are alone. The good news is that there are several alternatives to statins that may lower your blood lipids.

Ezetimibe is an oral agent that has been approved in the U.S. for many years. It can lower low-density lipoprotein, which is known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It is taken once daily with or without food. Although not relevant in your case, Ezetimibe also has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease when added to a statin drug in patients who have suffered a recent acute coronary syndrome.

There are also therapies that can be administered as injections instead of requiring daily oral administration as pills. These agents alter a protein PCSK 9 that interacts with the LDL receptor on the surface of the liver.

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