Cholesterol helps our bodies perform vital functions and stay healthy. Too much cholesterol, however, can be harmful. Various lifestyle and genetic factors can cause your blood lipid levels to rise too high, leading to hyperlipidemia, more commonly known as high cholesterol or high triglycerides.
Your body has two types of cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins or LDL) can lead to blocked arteries and put you at higher risk of heart disease, stroke or heart attack. Good cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDL), on the other hand, can help remove dangerous plaque from the arteries.
High Cholesterol Treatment
Modern medicine offers many effective treatment options for people with hyperlipidemia. If you suspect you have high cholesterol, meet with a doctor or cardiologist for diagnosis and treatment.
Many people can lower their cholesterol through healthy lifestyle changes, such as limiting intake of sugar, processed food, and trans and saturated fats. You can also improve your diet by eating more heart-healthy foods, such as:
- Lean protein
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains and fiber
- Healthy fats, such as nuts and olive oil
Exercise plays an important role in treating hyperlipidemia. Depending on your level of risk, family history, and genetic factors, your health care provider might also prescribe medication. To keep your cholesterol at healthy levels after initial treatment, remember to stick to a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid excess alcohol and tobacco use, and continue to take medications as directed.
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL (the bad type of cholesterol) builds up in the artery walls, causing them to harden and narrow. HDL (good cholesterol) cleans out the excess LDL and pushes it from the arteries back to the liver to be disposed of properly.
Usually, hyperlipidemia is caused by dietary and lifestyle choices. For instance, you may experience high cholesterol and hyperlipidemia because you:
- Eat lots of foods high in saturated or trans fats.
- Eat excessive amounts of animal protein, such as meat and dairy.
- Don’t exercise enough.
- Eat too few healthy fats.
- Struggle with obesity.
Abnormal cholesterol levels are occasionally also found in patients with health conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, pregnancy, and hypothyroidism.
Hyperlipidemia is entirely preventable. Typically, lifestyle and dietary changes can make a huge difference. Here are a few prevention tips:
- Eat healthy fats found in olive or canola oil, turkey, chicken, and certain types of fish.
- Avoid unsaturated or trans fat found in red meat, sausage, and full-fat dairy products.
- Eat more omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, mackerel, herring, nuts, and seeds.
- Increase your fiber intake by consuming oats, bran, fruits, beans, and vegetables.
Identify Your Risk and Get Treatment Today
To determine if you have or are at risk of developing hyperlipidemia, consult with the cardiologists at Brookhaven Heart today. Our experts will help you learn about risk factors, identify potential red flags in your health history and develop a plan to keep your cholesterol low and your heart healthy.