Your body uses a waxy substance called cholesterol to produce vitamin D, hormones, and other substances. Because your body produces enough cholesterol to meet its needs, you have to be careful about how much cholesterol you consume in the foods you eat. If too much cholesterol builds up in your blood, you can develop coronary artery disease.
This increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, regular checkups and lab work are an important
part of your healthcare plan.
High cholesterol, called hypercholesterolemia, causes plaque to build up in your arteries. This causes atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
When the arteries are clogged with plaque, it is hard for blood to flow past the blockages and get to other parts of your body. This increases the risk for heart attack because your heart needs blood to function properly. Many people do not know they have high cholesterol because it does not cause any obvious symptoms. The best way to tell if your cholesterol level is too high is to have a lipid panel blood test. This simple blood test can give you the information you need to make good health decisions.
HDL vs. LDL
Two types of proteins carry cholesterol in the bloodstream. High-density lipoprotein, also called HDL cholesterol, carries the cholesterol to your liver. Your liver eliminates excess cholesterol from your body, so HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein allows cholesterol to build up in your arteries. That is why it is known as the “bad” cholesterol. People with high LDL cholesterol levels have an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease. A high level of HDL in your blood reduces your risk for this disease.
There are several ways to control your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. One is to follow a healthful diet low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Limiting your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day and following other dietary guidelines can help you reduce your total cholesterol level. Exercising regularly can help you reduce your LDL cholesterol level and improve the amount of HDL cholesterol in your blood.
Many people also take medications to control their cholesterol levels. Statins cause the liver to destroy LDL cholesterol faster than usual. They also slow down the production of LDL cholesterol. Niacin can also reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and increase the amount of good cholesterol in your blood. You should not take this drug without the supervision of a medical professional because it must be taken in high doses to control you cholesterol levels.
Making Healthy Choices
It is easier to make good choices when you have the support of a caring medical professional. If you need help managing your cholesterol treatment and reducing your risk for heart disease, make a reservation at Physicians Now. You will have the opportunity to discuss your concerns with a compassionate provider who puts your health first.
At Willis Urgent Care we can test cholesterol levels and prescribe medication if needed. We can also refer to a primary care physician for long term treatment. We are open Monday - Saturday 8:00 - 8:00. You can walk in or use our convenient online check in. We will get you in and out fast!