High Cholesterol Q & A
What is cholesterol?
Found attached the lipids, or fats, in your blood, cholesterol isn’t a single substance, but rather two, that behave in different ways to manage overall cholesterol levels in your body. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) has the job of picking up excess cholesterol and returning it to your liver, where it’s metabolized. Since HDL removes cholesterol from your body, it’s considered the “good” form of cholesterol.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, moves cholesterol the other way, distributing it through the body. When LDL is in balance, your body is healthy and also in balance. When the proportion of LDL rises, excess cholesterol is deposited in the bloodstream, faster than HDL can clear it out. This excess cholesterol forms plaque inside the walls of your blood vessels, causing them to narrow and harden.
What causes cholesterol imbalance?
For some people, genetics are the problem. Their bodies just naturally overproduce cholesterol or dispose of it inefficiently. However, the imbalance often results from lifestyle choices, including low levels of physical activity, unhealthy diet, smoking, and carrying excess weight. Diabetics are also more at risk since high blood sugar both damages the insides of your arteries and contributes to higher LDL levels.
What complication does high LDL cause?
Cholesterol contributes to buildup on the arterial walls, a condition called atherosclerosis. This reduces the diameter of blood vessels which in turn can restrict blood flow to parts of your body. When blood flow to your heart is reduced, you may experience angina, pains felt in your chest.
If blood flow to your heart stops, you experience a heart attack. Similarly, any interruption to blood flow to the brain causes stroke, and a blood clot originating at a plaque rupture is often the culprit.
How is high cholesterol treated?
While there are medications that reduce cholesterol levels in several different ways, when high cholesterol doesn’t respond to more natural approaches, these may provide viable options.
Changes to lifestyle are, however, the typical first line of treatment, and usually the most effective at maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. With his medically supervised weight loss program, Dr. Mintz can help to help you improve your diet and activity levels.