What is High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is when you have increased cholesterol levels in the body. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. However, high cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease.
Fatty deposits in the blood vessels may develop if you have high cholesterol. This may lead to blood flow blockage in the arteries. Sometimes, these deposits can break suddenly, forming a clot that has the potential to cause a heart attack or stroke.
High cholesterol disease can be inherited, but it is often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. However, high cholesterol can be treated and prevented early by adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, and sometimes medication can also help reduce high cholesterol.
You can consult an internist to help you identify the cause and how to prevent high cholesterol using Smarter Health’s services.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is carried through your bloodstream, attached to proteins. The combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. Cholesterol is divided into several types based on what the lipoprotein carries, including:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL or bad cholesterol, transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol usually builds up in the walls of your blood vessels, making them hard and narrow.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL or good cholesterol, picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
A lipid profile is a lipoprotein analysis that typically measures triglycerides — a type of fat in the blood. When you have a high triglyceride level, you may increase your risk of heart disease.
Other factors that you can control, such as obesity and unhealthy diet, may contribute to high cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol.
Factors beyond your control may also contribute — such as your genetic makeup — to prevent cells from removing LDL cholesterol from your blood or causing your liver to produce too much cholesterol.
When to See a Doctor for High Cholesterol
Hasil tes darah akan menunjukkan: Your internist may perform blood tests to check your cholesterol levels. Your blood test results will show:
- Total cholesterol.
- LDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol.
- Triglycerides — a type of fat in the blood.
For a more accurate diagnosis, you should not eat or drink anything other than water for 9 to 12 hours prior to the blood draw,
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol has no obvious symptoms. Your doctor may perform blood tests to detect your cholesterol levels. Ask your doctor if you should have a cholesterol test.
Children and young adults with no risk factors for heart disease are usually tested once between the ages of 9 and 11. The test will be performed again between the ages of 17 and 19. Repeated tests are performed every 5 years for adults without risk factors for heart disease.
If your test results are not within desirable ranges, your doctor may recommend more frequent tests — particularly, if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, and other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes.
Treatments for High Cholesterol
Adopting a healthy lifestyle such as exercising and eating a healthy diet are the best ways to treat high cholesterol. If you have made a healthy lifestyle but your cholesterol levels remain high, your doctor may recommend medications.
The choice of medication or combination of medications depends on many factors, including your personal risk factors, age, health, and possible drug side effects. The medications may include statins, bile acid binding resins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and injectable drugs.
Medications for high triglycerides
If you have high triglycerides, your doctor might prescribe
- Fibrates. The medications fenofibrate (TriCor, Fenoglide, others) and gemfibrozil (Lopid)
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements — can help lower your triglycerides
- Niacin. Niacin limits your liver’s ability to produce LDL and VLDL cholesterol. However, niacin does not provide more additional benefits than statins. Niacin also increases the risks of liver damage and strokes. Most doctors would recommend it only for people who cannot take statins.
Everyone has a different tolerance for medications. The most common side effects of statins are muscle pains and damage, memory loss, confusion (inability to focus), and elevated blood sugar.
If you decide to take cholesterol medication, your doctor may recommend liver function tests to monitor the medication’s effect on your liver.
Children and cholesterol treatment
For initial treatment, diet and exercise most recommended for children age 2 and older who have high cholesterol or who are obese. Doctors may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins, for children age 10 and older who have extremely high cholesterol.
Treatment Cost for High Cholesterol
Treatment plans may vary from patient to patient — based on the results of the diagnosis, causes, symptoms, doctor’s consultation fees, and other additional fees.
For more details regarding the treatment cost for high cholesterol, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of High Cholesterol
Healthy lifestyle changes can lower cholesterol levels and prevent high cholesterol. The following are some ways to help prevent high cholesterol, such as:
- Quit smoking
- Manage stress.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Lose weight and maintain an ideal body weight.
- Consume less foods from animal sources and more good fats
- Eat foods low in salt, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a few days a week.
Home Remedies for High Cholesterol
Changing your lifestyle is essential to control your cholesterol levels. You are recommended to follow these home-care treatments :
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, find ways to quit.
- Lose some weight to help lower cholesterol levels.
- Monounsaturated fats are found in olive and canola oils, avocado, nuts, and fish.
- Exercise regularly. You should perform at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 times a week or vigorous exercise 5 times a week.
- Eat heart-healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Reduce consumption of saturated fats — can be found in red meat and fatty dairy products. You should also eat less processed foods as they contain trans fats
Have questions about high cholesterol? Write in the comment section below or use Smarter Health’s teleconsultation services to make a consultation with an internist.
Smarter Health is ready to assist you in finding hospital recommendations, specialist doctors, making appointments, and calculating estimated treatment costs whenever you need it.