About 95 million American adults have borderline or high cholesterol levels. If you don’t take steps to lower your cholesterol now, you could develop heart disease, experience a stroke, or even die. The good news is that you can easily learn how to manage your cholesterol and get healthy with help from the team at Spring Valley Internal Medicine in Washington, DC, and Bethesda, Maryland. Call either office or use the online booking tool today.
Cholesterol is a waxlike substance that occurs in your body and in food that comes from animals, such as meat and eggs. Your liver produces cholesterol naturally, and it helps you produce hormones, vitamin D, and cell membranes.
In your blood, cholesterol particles are known as lipoproteins. There are two main kinds: low-density (LDL) and high-density (HDL) lipoproteins.
Often called “bad cholesterol,” LDL can form plaque deposits that narrow arteries to cause heart disease (coronary artery disease). The ideal LDL number is under 100 — the lower, the better.
HDL is called “good cholesterol” because it helps you eliminate LDL. The ideal HDL number is 60 or higher.
A blood panel at Spring Valley Internal Medicine can give you the exact levels of each kind of cholesterol, as well as your total cholesterol level, which ideally should be less than 200.
If you have unhealthy lifestyle habits, you have a greater chance of developing a high cholesterol level. Common contributing factors include:
Saturated and trans fats can increase your LDL cholesterol. Common examples of saturated and trans fats include processed foods, dairy, chocolate, and fried foods.
When you exercise, it helps boost your HDL cholesterol levels, which in turn reduces your LDL cholesterol. Without exercise, you're unlikely to have enough HDL to eliminate the harmful LDL.
Smoking causes damage in two ways: It lowers your good cholesterol while increasing your bad cholesterol.
You can also have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, and some medications and medical conditions, like diabetes, can cause it as well.
At Spring Valley Internal Medicine, the team assesses your overall health and makes personalized recommendations.
Often, you can get your cholesterol back into a healthy range by changing the food you eat and the frequency of your exercise. If you smoke, take steps to stop as soon as possible. This can greatly increase your good cholesterol.
Your provider may also prescribe drugs that lower your cholesterol level, but it’s important to continue with a healthy eating and exercise plan to maximize the benefit of these medications.
You can conquer high cholesterol with support from the specialists at Spring Valley Internal Medicine. Call the office nearest you or click on the online appointment scheduler.