High cholesterol health facts
- Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in the blood.
- Cholesterol is necessary to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease.
- High cholesterol can be inherited, but is often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, which make it preventable and treatable.
- The best initial treatment to reduce cholesterol levels include regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- At times medication may be prescribed to treat high cholesterol.
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What is high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia, associated with hyperlipidemia)?
High cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia or a factor in hyperlipidemia, is a condition in which an elevated level of fats (lipids) are in the blood. These blood lipids can build up, forming plaque in the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention more than 1 in 5 Americans between the age of 6 and 19 have an unhealthy cholesterol reading. For ages 20 years old and older, 95 million Americans have high cholesterol.
High cholesterol symptoms & causes
A person with high cholesterol will show no symptoms. The only way to confirm the condition is through a blood test.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that a person with no risk for heart disease should check their cholesterol levels during the following times:
- Once between the ages of 9 and 11 (before puberty).
- Once between the ages of 17 and 19 (after puberty).
- Every five years for adults.
Managing high cholesterol
High cholesterol can be managed with the following lifestyle modifications:
- Weight loss.
- Regular exercise.
- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Limiting salt intake.
- Quitting smoking.
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation.
- Managing stress.
High cholesterol medication treatment
People who cannot control their cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes can use medications such as:
- Statins: medications that reduce levels of fats in the blood, including cholesterol.
- Bile-acid-binding resins: prevent bile from being absorbed back into the blood.
- Cholesterol absorbing inhibitors: reduce cholesterol in the blood.
- Fibrates: fibric acid derivatives that decrease fats in the blood.
- NiacinL: medication that serves to increase “good” cholesterol and remove “bad” cholesterol.
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements: can lower high cholesterol and have other benefits that reduces risk of heart disease.
- Plus other injectable medications to lower high cholesterol.
Take the next steps at HealthFit
At HealthFit, we can regularly monitor cholesterol levels at our in-house laboratory. We find that, with a commitment to a healthy lifestyle and motivation to make healthy choices, most chronic diseases can be well controlled, oftentimes reducing or eliminating the need for medications.