High cholesterol, also called hyperlipidemia, is substantially risky to cardiovascular health. Reports say about 93 million Americans over 20 have high LDL and/or poor ratios of HDL to LDL. Further still, many do not know they have the problem and what damage it may be doing to their health and longevity. This is why frequent checkups with your doctor and occasional blood tests to check your cholesterol levels are important.
Here’s more on the symptoms of high cholesterol, how you can take control of them, and where you can go for effective management of high cholesterol in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
What Is Hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia refers totoo much sticky fat in the bloodstream. Over time, it can accumulate inside arteries, impeding healthy blood circulation due to hard blockages called plaque.
Your primary care physician can detect hyperlipidemia through a simple blood test that reveals the levels of cholesterol, including the beneficial high-density or “good” lipids (HDL) or “bad” low-density lipids (LDL).
Good cholesterol assists your liver in removing fat from your body. Bad cholesterol leads to harmful plaque accumulation and, over time, heart attack, stroke, and more.
Symptoms of Hyperlipidemia
Many people go about their daily lives not knowing they have high cholesterol levels until their numbers are revealed on routine blood tests with their PCP. In other words, hyperlipidemia can be silent for a long time.
However, some people may begin developing physical symptoms which indicate a high risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis (plaque in the coronary arteries and peripheral arteries in the legs and feet). Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain (angina)
- Numbness and tingling in the lower extremities
Your PCP may recommend routine office visits and blood tests every three months or so to keep track of your cholesterol levels. Additionally, the doctor may recommend taking medications called statins to assist the liver in removing cholesterol from your bloodstream. People on prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs or supplements must take them as directed by their doctors for maximum therapeutic effects and avoidance of undue side effects.
Identifying Risk Factors
That being said, medication is not the only or even best method of controlling hyperlipidemia for the long term. Your doctor also will help you identify your risk factors for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, which can include:
- Your age (routine screening should start at age 20)
- Being too sedentary
- Family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and heart attack
- Taking some medications, such as beta blockers and diuretics
- High-fat, sugar and salt diet
While some risk factors, such as age and family history, are not modifiable, others, such as exercise habits, are.
Managing Symptoms of Hyperlipidemia
Working with your PCP, you can increase your cholesterol numbers for a person of your age and medical history. Your physician may recommend many of the following strategies:
- Achieving and maintaining body weight within your ideal range
- Engaging in heart-healthy exercises, such as cycling, swimming or walking, at least 150 minutes weekly
- Avoiding processed meats, such as hot dogs, and most high-fat red meat
- Reducing the amount of high-fat dairy and carbohydrates you consume
- Avoiding fast foods and menu choices with trans fats, such as baked goods and snack foods
- Increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as flax seeds, herring and salmon
- Consuming whole grain bread, rolls, and cereals
- Increasing beneficial fiber through several servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Stopping all tobacco, especially cigarette smoking, as it makes artery walls stickier for greater plaque build-up
- Restricting alcohol intake
Hyperlipidemia Treatment in Sarasota and Manatee Counties
If you are in search of an experienced doctor who can provide you with primary care services and help you control hyperlipidemia, look no further than Intercoastal Medical Group. Our team of primary care physicians and our eight cardiologists help their patients understand the risks of high cholesterol and how to manage it for better heart health.
To schedule an appointment, call your preferred location or request an appointment online.