The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of high cholesterol. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance that is produced naturally in the body and in small amounts, is important for normal functioning. Cholesterol is created in the liver and is also found in many foods, including eggs, meat and dairy products. It travels through the bloodstream to where it is needed, but too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can cause many health problems, including heart disease.
All cholesterols are sent through the bloodstream as part of natural compounds called lipoproteins, which are a combination of fat (lipids) and proteins. However, lipoproteins have very different effects on health. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are known as “bad” cholesterol and are associated with the buildup of plaque in arteries, which can in turn cause heart disease. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are known as “good” cholesterol; one of their functions is to help remove LDLs from the blood, which can help reduce the possibility of heart disease. Triglycerides are another form of fat that helps transport cholesterol through the bloodstream; high triglycerides are also associated with heart disease.
What causes high cholesterol?
High cholesterol can be caused by any or several of the following:
- Diet high in fats, dairy products, eggs and meats
- Lack of exercise
Age and gender are also related to high cholesterol, with men and seniors being more likely to have problems with too much cholesterol. Heredity is also a factor; if your parents or relatives have high cholesterol, you are more likely to have problems keeping your cholesterol at normal levels, too.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
There are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol; the only way to know if your cholesterol is normal or high is to have a blood test.
How is high cholesterol diagnosed?
A blood test will examine the levels of LDLs, HDLs, triglycerides and other compounds in your blood. Your Hurley physician will let you know if you have high cholesterol.
How is high cholesterol treated?
Your Hurley physician will work with you to decrease the levels of LDLs (“bad” cholesterol) in your bloodstream and to raise the levels of HDLs (“good” cholesterol). Your physician may recommend lifestyle changes, such as an improved, lower-fat diet, increased exercise, and stopping smoking. If your cholesterol is very high or you are at increased risk of heart disease due to other conditions (such as diabetes), you may be prescribed medications that can lower your cholesterol levels.