Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that circulates through the body in the blood. It comes from two sources: food intake and your own body. Even though your liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs, foods like dairy products, meat and poultry can contribute to elevated levels. Cholesterol management is crucial in order to ensure that you have a healthy amount of cholesterol in your system.
It is important for people to realize that not all cholesterol is bad. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is actually known as “good cholesterol” because it helps to carry away the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), more commonly referred to as the “bad cholesterol.” LDL, on the other hand, can cause harm by forming plaque in the arteries.
This reduces blood flow and makes it harder for the heart to pump as it should. This plaque can also cause clots. When a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, it results in a stroke. Blocking the flow to the heart causes a heart attack. Consequently, it is important to keep the bad cholesterol in check and to have an adequate level of good cholesterol in the blood.
There are several risk factors that may increase the LDL level in the blood, one of which is a poor diet. Eating saturated fats and trans fats can raise the bad cholesterol level. Primary sources for saturated fats are animal products, while commercially baked goods like cookies and crackers can contain trans fats. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, diabetes and lack of exercise. High cholesterol can be genetic as well.
Healthy eating habits and regular exercise are important beginning places for cholesterol management. The American Heart Association recommends a diet that includes fruits, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. Exercise helps to boost the body’s HDL and can make the LDL less harmful.
High cholesterol has no symptoms. The only way to detect it is through a blood test. Consequently, it is vital for people to work with our experts to manage cholesterol properly. When diet and exercise aren’t enough, prescription medication may be necessary. After considering the individual’s risk factors, age, other health conditions and possible side effects, our doctor can choose from several categories of medicines to prescribe what is best.
Regardless of which treatment method is chosen, it is important to note that cholesterol management today can prevent more serious health issues tomorrow. At Cardiology Consultants of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, our medical team can help you every step of the way when it comes to cholesterol management. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.