High cholesterol doubles your risk of heart disease, yet you won’t be aware of the developing problem because it doesn’t cause symptoms. Dr. Alkeshkumar Patel at Citrus Medical Clinic protects your health with routine cholesterol screening and comprehensive treatment to keep your cholesterol within a normal range. If you’d like a risk assessment or you’re past due to have your cholesterol checked, call one of his offices in Chandler or Safford, Arizona, or book an appointment online.
Your body produces its cholesterol because it’s essential for important jobs like making hormones, digesting fats, and maintaining healthy cells. Too much cholesterol, however, causes serious problems.
Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream to reach tissues throughout your body. In the process, it can get stuck on artery walls, a problem that’s more likely to happen when you have higher than normal levels of cholesterol in your blood.
As the cholesterol continues to build up in the same spot, it also hardens, creating atherosclerotic plaque. Eventually, plaque hardens and narrows the artery and blocks blood flow, which leads to:
Cholesterol can’t travel through your bloodstream on its own. To get into your blood, it must be turned into a lipoprotein – a little package with cholesterol on the inside and an outer wrapping made of proteins.
There are different types of lipoproteins, with each one containing varying proportions of cholesterol and protein. The type of lipoprotein determines whether cholesterol is good or bad for your health.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) have more protein and less cholesterol. HDL is the good cholesterol because it picks up excess cholesterol, then carries it out of your bloodstream.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) have less protein and more cholesterol because their job is to deliver cholesterol to cells in your body. LDL is the so-called bad cholesterol because it stays in your bloodstream, where the cholesterol it carries has a higher chance of sticking to artery walls.
Treatment for high cholesterol takes a two-pronged approach: lifestyle changes and medication. Lifestyle changes may include reducing the amount of fat you consume and increasing soluble fiber. Getting more exercise is also important because it boosts healthy HDL levels.
Dr. Patel may prescribe medications when lifestyle changes aren’t effective. You may need medication to lower cholesterol right from the start if your cholesterol levels are dangerously high or if you’re at a higher risk for coronary artery disease. A variety of medications are available, so Dr. Patel chooses the one that’s best for your age and overall health.