Diagnosing & Prevention
Diagnosing High Cholesterol
Whom Should you Consult for Treatment of High Cholesterol Levels?
- Cholesterol abnormalities are quite common due to a sedentary lifestyle. It is estimated that one in six adults in the US suffers from high cholesterol. Therefore, depending on the risk factors and lipid panel results (which give you the values for LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides), you and your healthcare provider should collectively decide on the next steps.
- If you have other risk factors and co-existing conditions, it may be a good idea to consult a specialist, such as a cardiologist (for heart diseases), endocrinologist (for diabetes), etc.
How would you Know if you have High LDL (“bad”) Cholesterol?
- Since high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol do not cause any immediate problem or illness, most people do not have any signs or symptoms of high cholesterol. Left to itself, it may take many years before any symptoms appear, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack. Just because there are no symptoms does not mean that there is no damage or risk. The only way to be sure about the LDL levels is to go for a cholesterol test and get the results examined by a doctor.
- Cholesterol testing, also known as “lipid profile” is recommended as a screening test for high cholesterol. It includes testing for HDL-C, LDL-C, Triglycerides (TG’s) and, Lipoprotein (a) [Lp(a) is a lipoprotein subclass]. It’s best to have your primary care physician run your cholesterol test. Lipid profile generally requires fasting, except water, for 9-12 hours before the test. The test generally involves collecting blood sample from a vein in your arm.
- All adults aged 20 and older should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years.
Preventive Measures for High Cholesterol
What can you do to Prevent High Cholesterol?
- Get a blood test: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. Only a doctor’s check will reveal it. A simple blood test,known as a lipid profile,is done to check your cholesterol levels. It measures all kinds of cholesterol as well as triglycerides. Sometimes, a doctor might just opt for a simpler blood test that checks the total and HDL cholesterol.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help keep the blood cholesterol levels down. Avoid foods containing saturated fats and trans fats (such as red meat, cheese, cookie, doughnuts), which tend to raise cholesterol levels. Other types of fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually lower blood cholesterol levels. Eating fiber can also help lower cholesterol. For some people, eating too many carbohydrates can lower HDL (good cholesterol) and raise triglycerides. Drinking too much alcohol can raise triglycerides and can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. So, women should have no more than one alcoholic drink a day and men no more than two.
- Maintain healthy weight:
- Being overweight or obese can raise your bad cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help lower your cholesterol.
- To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s excess body fat.
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol levels. It is recommended that adults should engage in moderate-intense exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries. It greatly increases a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke.So the mantra is, if you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do smoke, try to quit as it will lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.