Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver that is used to protect various nerves and tissues of the body while also producing important hormones. Cholesterol can also be absorbed by the body from the foods that we eat, especially those with high fat content like eggs, meat, and dairy products. A diet that frequently consists of these ingredients, among other risk factors, are likely to lead a person to encounter high cholesterol levels.
There are many negative effects that can stem from a buildup of excess cholesterol within the blood, which is why individuals should carefully monitor their cholesterol levels and make active strides to lower these levels.
There are two distinct types of cholesterol that can be measured within a patient’s body: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The major difference between these two substances is that LDL delivers cholesterol to the body whereas HDL removes cholesterol from the blood. These characteristics are why many will generally refer to LDL as “bad cholesterol” and HDL as “good cholesterol”.
Individuals with high LDL levels are at an increased risk for serious conditions such as heart attack or stroke, which is due to the buildup of fatty deposits within the blood vessels. These deposits restrict blood flow between the vessels until the blood is eventually unable to travel where it needs to go throughout the body.
Ideally, people should strive to keep their various cholesterol levels at:
It is not at all uncommon for individuals to be outside of the proper cholesterol level range shown above. Fortunately, there are many ways that a person can control their cholesterol levels through maintenance of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and possible medications to reduce the amount of cholesterol in their body.
There are few symptoms that specifically occur in those with high cholesterol. A large number of people with this condition will not even be aware of it until complications start to arise from blocked arteries, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Even if an individual does not experience a concerning attack as a result of high cholesterol, they may already be predisposed to the condition if they:
Testing an individual’s cholesterol levels is really very simple, and only requires a small sample of blood to be examined by our laboratory facility.
It is recommended that an individual’s cholesterol levels first be tested between the ages of 9 and 11, and should increase in frequency throughout the remainder of their lifetime. By age 20, a cholesterol test should be administered every 5 years. Men between ages 45-65 and women between ages 55-65 should complete these tests every 1 to 2 years.
While some of these factors are completely out of a person’s control, there are still many ways in which they can influence their cholesterol levels by implementing healthy lifestyle habits, including:
There are also many prescription medications available to those with high cholesterol levels. Various situations will call for different types of medication to be prescribed, so be sure to speak with your doctor before adding any new cholesterol medicine to your regimen.
If you are worried about your risk for high cholesterol, or would like to discuss other options for ongoing management and treatment of your cholesterol levels, please contact High Lakes Health Care today at (541) 389-7741 to set up an appointment with one of our exceptional physicians!