Treatment For High Cholesterol
Lifestyle changes are one of the first things your doctor will recommend for managing high cholesterol. All medications can cause side effects, including medications to lower your cholesterol, and many people can successfully lower their cholesterol without them. Your doctor will determine which treatment approach is best for you.
Lifestyle changes that can help lower your cholesterol include:
- Adenosine triphosphate-citrate lyase inhibitors
Who Should Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- are over the age of 40 people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty molecule that your cells need to function. Your liver makes it, but you can also get cholesterol from the foods you eat.
The term high cholesterol usually refers to the amount of cholesterol being carried in the blood by low-density lipoprotein, or LDL . High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol increases your risk of atherosclerosis, where deposits of cholesterol, calcium and white blood cells produce plaques in the walls of arteries. These plaques can reduce blood flow to vital organs like the heart and brain, and produce serious complications like heart attack and stroke.
There can be many reasons why your cholesterol is high:
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What You Should Worry About
Should you actually worry about cholesterol in food? The greater danger for everyone is in foods that are high in trans fats.
Those often appear on food labels as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, he says. Those types of fats do tend to raise cholesterol and do tend to increase the risk of heart disease.
All in all, look for trans fat and saturated fat on labels at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary saturated fat intake and focusing more on eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean animal protein or plant protein sources.
High Cholesterol Runs In The Family
Oftentimes, one of the biggest factors that determines your cholesterol levels is your genes, said Dr. Kirley. How your genes affect your cholesterol is pretty complicated, but its safe to say that high cholesterol tends to run in families.
For most people, genetic testing isnt necessary or helpful unless they have very high cholesterol levels, she added. And because genes are something we cant change this is why medications are an important tool for treating high cholesterol.
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Cholesterol And High Bp Run Together
It is important to note that high cholesterol and high blood pressure tend to run together, said Dr. Kirley. One doesnt necessarily cause the other, but its very common to see both in an individual.
And certainly, both of them contribute to raising somebodys risk for heart attack and stroke, she added, noting that the interventions to helpthings like more physical activity and nutritioncan impact both your blood pressure and your cholesterol.
Heredity Can Play A Role
Some people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to have too much cholesterol. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH is related to the duration and degree of LDL cholesterol in the blood. FH is dangerous because it can cause premature atherosclerotic heart disease.
If you have a family history of FH or problems related to high cholesterol, get your levels checked.
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Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people dont discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.
Triglycerides Are Closely Related
Another thing to keep in mind is triglycerides, which are a type of fat or lipid that are most influenced by what we eat and they are closely related to cholesterol, said Dr. Kirley. Our triglyceride levels are changing throughout the day, and they can be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
When visiting your doctor for blood tests, what youre actually getting is a test of a few different forms of lipids or cholesterol, she added. We will also see what triglyceride levels look like when you get a cholesterol test done. Thats another thing a physician is looking at to decide whether they need to offer medications to manage those levels as well.
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What Happens If You Have High Cholesterol
What does high cholesterol mean?
High cholesterol means there is too much cholesterol in your blood. This can clog up your arteries the large blood vessels that carry blood around your body. Over time, this can lead to serious problems.
How does cholesterol clog up your arteries?
Excess cholesterol can be laid down in the walls of your arteries. Fatty areas known as plaques can form, and these become harder with time, making the arteries stiffer and narrower. This process is called atherosclerosis.
When the arteries become narrower, its harder for blood to flow through them. This puts a strain on your heart because it has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Eventually, the heart can become weak and cant work as well as it should.
Blood clots can form over the fatty, hardened parts of the arteries. The blood clots can block the artery completely, cutting off the blood flow. Bits of the blood clots can break away and become lodged in an artery or vein in another part of the body, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol With Medicines
As well as making lifestyle changes, some people will need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to reduce their risk of heart and blood vessel disease, known as cardiovascular disease. The medicines most commonly used are called statins.
Your doctor will consider all your risk factors for cardiovascular disease before suggesting medication not just your cholesterol and lipid results. If youve already had a heart attack or stroke, taking statins can substantially lower your risk of having another one.
Statins work by slowing the amount of cholesterol made in your liver. In response, your liver uses the cholesterol already in your blood to make up for the deficit. This lowers the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
If statins alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may need additional medicines.
Contact your doctor if your medicines are causing any side effects.
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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.
Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
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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.
Are There Any Treatments For High Cholesterol Levels Caused By Genetics
Usually, the first line of treatment for high cholesterol is lifestyle modification, but if you have FH youll need more advanced treatment. Its always important to eat a low-fat diet, exercise and control your weight. Having a healthy lifestyle is crucial for heart health and for overall health, says Martin. However, people with FH could eat an extremely low-fat diet and still not be able to control their cholesterol because theyre genetically unable to handle it. For them, cholesterol is going to build up in the bloodstream regardless of what they eat.
Fortunately, there are medications that can substantially lower LDL cholesterol levels. The most common treatment for FH is statin drug therapy. Statin drugs work by blocking an enzyme that produces cholesterol in the liver and increases your bodys ability to remove cholesterol from the blood. They can lower your LDL cholesterol levels by 50 percent or more. Statins have been safely used to reduce the risk of heart disease for 30 years and continue to be the number one option when it comes to helping people with FH.
Other treatment options include medications that block cholesterol from being absorbed from your intestines into your bloodstream, or drugs that block an enzyme called PCSK9, which reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
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Why Is My Cholesterol So High
- King’s Daughters Health
Your cholesterol levels are determined by a number of things, some that you can control, and some that you cannot.
Those you cant do anything about include genetics, age and gender. High blood cholesterol can run in families, so your high cholesterol may be something handed down to you. However, the chance that your high cholesterol is due solely to family genetics is remote. Blood cholesterol levels typically start to increase beginning around the age of 20 and continue to rise until age 60 or 65. Before age 50, men usually have higher cholesterol levels. After age 50, or menopause, women have higher LDL levels.
Things you can do to control cholesterol levels:
- Watch what you eat. Diets that include a lot of saturated fat trans fats and cholesterol may raise your blood cholesterol levels. Of the three, saturated fats have the greatest impact on LDL levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight increases your LDL cholesterol levels decreases HDL cholesterol and raises triglycerides.
- Get active. A sedentary lifestyle can raise LDL and lower HDL. Regular physical activity can help you lose weight and thus improve your LDL-HDL ratio.
Know your cholesterol profile
Managing cholesterol and triglyceride levels is essential to ensuring good heart and vascular health. Kings Daughters cardiologists offer appointments within 48 hours at their offices in Ashland Portsmouth and Prestonsburg .
Getting A Cholesterol Test
A blood sample is taken that will be used to determine the amount of bad cholesterol , good cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood.
You may be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours before the cholesterol test, usually including when you’re asleep at night. This ensures that all food is completely digested and won’t affect the outcome of the test.
Your GP or practice nurse can carry out the cholesterol test and will take a blood sample, either using a needle and a syringe or by pricking your finger.
A newer type of test that measures non-high-density lipoprotein is now sometimes used because it’s thought to be a more accurate way of estimating cardiovascular disease risk than LDL.
Non-HDL cholesterol is total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol. It’s also not necessary to fast before the test, so it is more convenient.
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When Should My Cholesterol Levels Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition
- are overweight
How To Decrease Your Cholesterol Levels
In most people, high HDL is not harmful, so it doesnt necessarily require treatment. The action plan depends largely on how high your levels are, as well as your overall medical history. Your doctor can help determine whether you need to actively lower HDL levels or not.
Your overall cholesterol levels may be decreased by:
- not smoking
- drinking alcohol in moderate amounts only
- getting moderate exercise
- reducing saturated fats in your diet
- managing underlying health conditions, such as thyroid diseases
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone over the age of 20 gets a cholesterol test every four to six years. You may need to test more frequently if you have risk factors for high cholesterol, such as family history.
More research is needed to further understand how high HDL can be harmful in certain people. If you have a personal or family history of either high cholesterol levels or C-reactive proteins, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to regularly monitor your HDL levels.
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Have Your Cholesterol Levels Tested
As for how often a person should have their cholesterol levels tested, for many people, it does not need to be a yearly test, said Dr. Kirley. The guidelines have been evolving about this in terms of what age you need to start getting your cholesterol levels tested and how frequently.
For most adults, its good to have them checked at least once so you have a general idea about where your levels may be and what your risk may be, she added. And then for people who have risk factors like high blood pressure or older age, we may start checking every few years or so.
How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
You cant tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. A simple blood test will reveal your cholesterol level.
Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked. Men and women 20 years of age and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have their cholesterol checked. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or have a strong family history of high cholesterol. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol checked.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- Cigarette smoking.
- Having an immediate family member who has had heart disease.
- Being overweight or obese.
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