High cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease. At Girard Internal Medicine, Nicole Kimzey, DO, evaluates and helps you manage cholesterol levels that are less than ideal. Men and women living in and around the Philadelphia area can call the office or book an appointment online to have their cholesterol measured and treated, if necessary.
Cholesterol is a natural fat-like substance that you need for cell structure, hormone production, and metabolism. Too much of this waxy substance raises your risk of heart disease because it accumulates in your blood vessels and clogs them. This can prevent blood from getting to your heart and brain, raising your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
You don’t experience any symptoms when you have high cholesterol. Certain lifestyle habits, a history of high cholesterol in your family, and smoking can put you at a greater risk of having high cholesterol. A diet high in saturated and trans fats, being obese with a large waist, and a sedentary lifestyle also puts you at risk.
All cholesterol is not bad. Your body produces some for important cell growth and function. However, too much of the “bad” kind in your bloodstream can be detrimental.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. It picks up excess cholesterol and brings it back to your liver for processing. A high level of HDL is desirable.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, takes the cholesterol throughout your body and builds up in the walls of your arteries. High levels of LDL are an alarm signal that your body is suffering from inflammation and put you at risk of developing heart disease.
Lifestyle habits go a long way in preventing high cholesterol. Actions you can take to help keep your numbers at healthy levels include:
These steps also help lower high cholesterol levels if Dr. Kimzey should find your numbers are not in a healthy range.
Cholesterol is measured with a simple blood test. You should fast prior to the test to get the most accurate results, meaning no food for about 12 hours prior to your blood draw.
A measurement of total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL or above is considered high. LDL levels of 160-189 mg/dL are considered high, especially if you don’t have heart disease. And HDL numbers below 40 mg/dL for men or below 50 mg/dL for women are considered poor.
Dr. Kimzey may prescribe certain medications to help get your cholesterol under control. But changing unhealthy lifestyle habits is also important, and she can help you with those too.
To learn more about cholesterol and its impact on your health, call the office or book an appointment online.