Like hypertension and other early signs of heart disease, high cholesterol can lie in wait for years without ever presenting a symptom, and cause a terrifying list of potential long-term complications. High cholesterol is common, however, and prevention and treatment through medication and lifestyle changes are possible, especially when it’s caught early. Don’t wait to find out if you’re at risk because of high cholesterol — get a blood test today at Silverstein Medical. Call the Havre de Grace, Maryland, office and make an appointment with Louis Silverstein, MD, to learn more about high cholesterol, or request an appointment online.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in fatty deposits in your blood vessels and lead to serious long-term health risks. Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, but if you have high cholesterol, you’re at greater risk of heart disease and stroke, among others. There are no symptoms of high cholesterol; the only way to diagnose it is with a blood test.
It’s possible to inherit high cholesterol, but your diet and level of exercise have a huge effect on your cholesterol levels. This means that with good lifestyle choices, high cholesterol is both preventable and treatable.
Cholesterol travels through the body attached to proteins, in a combination called a lipoprotein. “Good” and “bad” cholesterol are the two types of lipoproteins, and differ based on the type of cholesterol the lipoprotein contains:
Bad cholesterol is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that builds up in deposits in your blood vessels over time and makes them narrower and more brittle.
Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL), picks up extra LDL as it passes through the bloodstream and carries it back to the liver for processing.
Your diet and level of exercise can affect your levels of both LDL and HDL, but some people are genetically predisposed to have trouble processing or producing one or both types of cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol, your first step is to start exercising more regularly and improve your diet, and Dr. Silverstein and the team at Silverstein Medical can help. They can suggest ways to eliminate foods high in saturated fats, trans fat or cholesterol from your diet, and introduce more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead. If you smoke, the team can provide you assistance to quit, and they may also suggest you limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
If you have made these lifestyle changes and not seen a drop in your cholesterol, Dr. Silverstein may recommend medication. Popular options include statins, a class of medicines that help your liver absorb cholesterol and limit its production, bile-acid-binding resins and cholesterol absorption inhibitors that keep cholesterol from entering your bloodstream.
If you’re worried you may have high cholesterol, or if you have any questions, call Silverstein Medical or make an appointment online.