Cholesterol is a type of waxy fat found in the blood. It’s used to build new cells through the continuous maintenance cycles the body performs. Cholesterol travels through the body attached to proteins in a combination called a lipoprotein. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol through the body. Think of these as the trucks bringing material to a building site. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry excess cholesterol to the liver for processing, so they’re like garbage trucks, taking waste away.
When too much LDL gets delivered, it clutters up the worksite – your blood vessels. In the case of high cholesterol, the HDL can’t haul excess fast enough, and LDL builds up in the blood vessel walls. LDL gets out of balance due to a variety of factors. Some are under the patient’s control, while others are not.
In some cases, the body simply has a function issue, whether from genetics, when high cholesterol runs in the family, or a defect of the liver, causing it to produce too much. Other factors include being overweight, inactive, or eating an unhealthy diet that contributes more cholesterol in the form of high fat. Saturated and trans fats are particularly problematic.
Seeing a health care provider at FMAA is a great first step. Blood screening for high cholesterol is simple, and once your numbers are known, Dr. Mircea or Dr. Lugo can create a treatment plan. This may involve medication to lower cholesterol levels. There are a few drug classes that address high LDL levels in several ways. Lifestyle changes work on their own or in combination with medication. These include increased exercise and a diet low in fat. If a patient’s diet and activity require major changes, this may be the first step to reducing cholesterol without medication.
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