Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs it to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems. The higher your cholesterol, so is your risk of these problems.
When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.
High cholesterol can be inherited, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and thus preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.
Ask your doctor if you should have a cholesterol test. If your test results aren’t within desirable ranges, your doctor may recommend more frequent measurements especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain kinds of food (red meat, butter, fried food, cheese, and others with high saturated fat), losing weight if you are overweight, and being more active. But, if you’ve made these important lifestyle changes and your levels remain high, your doctor may recommend medication. The specific choice of medication or combination of medications depends on various factors, including your individual risk factors, your age, your current health and possible side effects.
High cholesterol is a serious condition and can lead to life-threatening illnesses. If you have not had your cholesterol checked by a physician, it is important you do so. Book your appointment online to schedule a visit with a CareMount Medical primary care provider.