I’m sure you know someone with dyslipidemia, otherwise known as “high cholesterol.” You may have even been told that you have it. This is a broad term that covers abnormalities in various types of cholesterol. We check cholesterol by ordering a blood test called a “lipid panel.” A lipid panel includes:
- LDL cholesterol – “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems.
- HDL cholesterol – “good” cholesterol. A high HDL level actually decreases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems.
- Non-HDL cholesterol – Total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides – Technically not cholesterol, but associated with heart attacks, strokes, pancreatitis, and other health problems if elevated.
Cholesterol in itself is not bad. The cholesterol in your body comes from your liver, intestines, and the food you eat. Your body makes it to form cell membranes, hormones, vitamins, etc. It is in every cell of your body, and it is absolutely critical for your survival! As with most things, however, cholesterol is good only in moderation. Sometimes it can be elevated from eating too much of a certain type of food, and in some people it is related to genetics. If you have too much cholesterol, it can build up in your blood vessels and impair blood delivery to your organs; this is what causes heart attacks and strokes.
Fortunately, abnormal levels of cholesterol are very responsive to treatment. Because cholesterol is formed by your body from the food you eat, the initial treatment is a lifestyle change. These lifestyle changes include:
- Avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat. (Red meat, butter, fried foods, etc)
- Increasing intake of fresh vegetables and fruit.
- Getting more exercise and losing weight if you are overweight.
After several months of these consistent changes, your cholesterol levels may be significantly lower. Think of your body like a machine – machines work better if you put the right fuel in them. Your body will be better if you fuel it with healthy foods and exercise. If your cholesterol is still elevated after lifestyle changes, there are many medications that work well to lower your cholesterol. We typically start with a “statin” drug to lower your cholesterol.
Your health is important, and we, at Mira DPC, want to help you live your healthiest life! Contact us for an appointment today!