More than 70 million adults in the US have high cholesterol. When your cholesterol numbers are high, your risk of developing heart disease doubles. If you are concerned about cholesterol, the physicians at Tapia Internal Medicine Clinic, PLLC can help you better understand what high cholesterol is and how to prevent and treat it.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a substance that is found in the blood. Everyone has some. It is needed for good health. The problem is, people sometimes have too much cholesterol. Compared with people with normal cholesterol, people with high cholesterol have a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and other health problems. The higher your cholesterol, the higher your risk of these problems.
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is determined by your total cholesterol number from your blood test.
- Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dl
- Borderline high: 200 mg/dl to 239 mg/dl
- High: Greater than 240 mg/dl
Total cholesterol count includes two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins (LDL), referred to as bad cholesterol, and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), referred to as good cholesterol. In addition to your total cholesterol, your physician wants you to pay attention to your LDL and HDL numbers.
For better heart health:
- LDL less than 100 mg/dl
- HDL greater than 40 mg/dl
Should I take medicine to lower my cholesterol?
Not everyone who has high cholesterol needs medicines. Your doctor will decide if you need them based on your age, family history and other health concerns.
Can I lower my cholesterol without medicines?
Yes, you can lower you cholesterol some by:
- Avoiding red meat, butter, fried foods, cheese and other foods with high saturated fats
- Losing weight (if overweight)
- Being more active
Even if these steps do little to change your cholesterol, they can improve your health in many ways.
What steps can I take to prevent high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is preventable. Steps you can take to reduce your risk include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins
- Exercising regularly