Cholesterol is a substance with a waxy consistency that circulates in your blood. It’s a component used to build every cell in the body and to create hormones, so it’s an essential nutrient for the body.
Cholesterol travels through the body in vessels called lipoproteins. Those lipoproteins are called:
Your body makes all the cholesterol you need. The trouble happens when your diets gives you more cholesterol than is necessary.
When you have more cholesterol in your system than your body needs, it stores the excess in fatty deposits inside your blood vessels. As these fatty deposits thicken, blood has a harder time flowing through the arteries and delivering oxygen to the heart or brain.
Often, an excess of cholesterol accumulates because of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, full-fat dairy, and red meat products raises your cholesterol. Smoking and diabetes lower HDL levels and cause damage to the arteries.
High cholesterol often leads to atherosclerosis as the fatty deposits, known as plaque, accumulate, narrowing the arteries. When plaque thickens to the point where the arteries tear and cause a blood clot, you could suffer a heart attack or stroke as your heart or brain don’t receive enough oxygen.
Healthy eating and exercise make a big difference in your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall heart health. To lower your cholesterol levels with healthy lifestyle habits:
Southwestern Medical Associates recommends diet and exercise as the first line of treatment for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to improve your levels, she may start you on medication, including statins and other cholesterol inhibitors.
If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, make an appointment with Southwestern Medical Associates by phone to get it under control.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!