A Symptomless Health Risk: High Cholesterol
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is often described as a “waxy” substance similar to fat that is found in the body’s blood cells. Your liver produces good and bad cholesterol that assists in the production of hormones and vitamin D and helps in digestion. You can also ingest cholesterol through certain foods, often from animal products like meat, poultry and dairy.
What’s the difference between “good” and “bad” cholesterol?
Some cholesterol is good and necessary for a healthy body. This type of cholesterol is referred to as HDL, or high-density lipoproteins. HDL helps circulate cholesterol from your body and brings it back to the liver, where it is removed from the body. LDL, or low-density lipoproteins, can build up cholesterol in your arteries, where it could cause heart disease and other health problems.
How do I know if I have high cholesterol?
There are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol; many people may be unaware of the condition unless they are checked by a physician. Cholesterol levels can be assessed through a simple blood test, sometimes called a lipid profile. Your Pacific Family Practice (PFP) provider can give more information on any preparation needed prior to a blood test.
Who is at risk for high cholesterol?
- Those with a family history of high cholesterol
- Those with a diet high in meat, poultry and “fatty” dairy products
- Those with a diet high in saturated and/or trans fats
- Snacks like baked goods or fried foods
- Butter and margarine
- Ice cream
How is high cholesterol treated?
The top treatment for high cholesterol is lifestyle modification. Your PFP provider will recommend changes to diet and exercise depending on your individual health needs. Your provider will also advise that you discontinue any and all tobacco use. Depending on the need, your provider may also prescribe medication in order to help lower your cholesterol level to a healthy range. High cholesterol doesn’t only affect those who are overweight -- those who are in a healthy weight range can still have too much bad cholesterol in their system.
If you are interested in learning more about high cholesterol, or if you would like to have your cholesterol levels checked, please contact PFP.