High cholesterol, also called hyperlipidemia, is a health problem many Americans face. It’s a red flag for heart disease, heart attack, stroke and other serious problems. If your primary care physician says your cholesterol levels are too high, there are simple steps you can take to lower it.
Cholesterol–Good or Bad?
Cholesterol is essential to the body, as it keeps your cells healthy and is used to make natural hormones. However, too much cholesterol puts people at risk for:
- Atherosclerosis, a narrowing of major arteries due to fatty plaque build-up (leading to coronary artery, peripheral artery and carotid artery disease)
- Heart attack
So, as part of preventive healthcare, your primary care physician will beginroutine screening for cholesterol in men at age 35 and in women at age 45. Testing should be done regularly after that at age-dependent intervals.
A cholesterol test is a simple blood test tells the doctor your levels of:
- HDL (high density lipids) which helps transport fats to the liver for elimination from the body
- LDL (low density lipids), the “bad” cholesterol which can accumulate in your body and cause disease
- Total cholesterol, the combination of HDL, LDL and other lipids called triglycerides
The lipid panel test also reveals levels of other kinds of cholesterol. Your doctor will interpret these results in relation to norms established for gender and age. In general, you want your HDL to be higher than your LDL.
Steps to Lowering Cholesterol
Many people take the diagnosis of hyperlipidemia seriously and follow what their physicians recommend to lower their numbers. For some, this means taking cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs–statins and others. For everyone wishing to improve their cholesterol levels, the following strategies are highly recommended.
Start slowly, and gradually build-up to 150 minutes of light aerobic exercise weekly. Choose what you really like and what you will do consistently. Examples are cycling, jogging, swimming, and walking.
Control Your Weight, Blood Glucose, and Blood Pressure
Obesity and high cholesterol often go hand in hand. These conditions can coexist with hypertension and diabetes, too. So, keep your weight within normal limits to see improvement in your annual blood tests.
Watch Your Diet
A healthy diet means more than the right daily calorie intake (as important as that is). Lowering cholesterol means making better food choices–leaner meats, low-fat dairy, increased fiber intake and fruits and vegetables. Avoid fast and processed foods, and transition to a more plant-based diet.
Know Your Health Risks
Your primary care physician can tell you what risk factors you have. While you cannot change your heredity, gender, age, or family history, you can work on behaviors which lower other risks. For instance, if you know you sit too much at home or on the job, work on building steps into your day, and start an exercise plan.
High Cholesterol Treatment Near Me in Sarasota and Manatee Counties
At Intercoastal Medical Group, our healthcare providers deliver the finest preventive care in the area. If you want to control high cholesterol or other chronic health conditions, please contact us for an in-person consultation.
Intercoastal Medical Group has 10 locations to serve you, staffed with highly experienced family practice and internal medicine physicians, as well as cardiologists and other board-certified specialists. Also, you can request an appointment here. We look forward to seeing you!