High cholesterol is a common problem that affects nearly 2 out of 5 people in the United States. This puts them at risk for heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke. If you or a loved one has recently found out you have high cholesterol, you may have many questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about cholesterol.
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol, also known as hyperlipidemia, is a common condition that affects your blood vessels and increases your risk of heart disease. It results when waxy substances build up in blood vessels and cause narrowing or blockages. Higher cholesterol can occur because of lifestyle habits, genetics, and combinations of factors. Fortunately, it’s highly treatable when detected early.
Does high cholesterol cause any symptoms?
There aren’t any symptoms associated with high cholesterol, which is why routine screening at Greenbrook Medical is essential. Without cholesterol screening, you might not know you have high cholesterol until you have a heart or blood vessel complication because of it.
What are the risk factors for high cholesterol?
Anyone can develop hyperlipidemia, but some factors boost your risk. Examples include:
- Family history of high cholesterol
- Older age
- Poor dietary habits
- Eating too much saturated fat
- Weight challenges
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive alcohol intake
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol, as well as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, and heart disease.
How does my doctor diagnose high cholesterol?
To diagnose high cholesterol and develop a treatment plan, the experts at Greenbrook Medical review your medical history, ask about symptoms you have and medications you take, and complete a physical exam. Your provider takes a blood sample for an on-site lab to test it.
What are the treatments for high cholesterol?
Common treatments for high cholesterol include:
Making lifestyle changes can reduce cholesterol naturally. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, reduce your intake of saturated fats (animal fats), exercise daily, and get plenty of sleep. Increase your fiber intake, lose weight if you’re overweight, and don’t smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Keep stress levels as low as possible.
Your provider could recommend taking dietary supplements to help keep your cholesterol levels low. Remember to ask your doctor before starting any new supplements.
Taking statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications can reduce cholesterol if your levels are high or if other treatments haven’t worked.
If you are unsure of where your cholesterol levels are, it is a good idea to get it checked. To get screened or treated for high cholesterol, call the Greenbrook Medical office nearest you or request an appointment online today.