High cholesterol: symptoms, causes and treatments
Millions of Americans are diagnosed with high cholesterol each year. Whether it’s related to lifestyle choices, diet, lack of exercise or genetics, high cholesterol is as dangerous as it is common – and left untreated can lead to a large number of health problems.
Many types of people are affected by high cholesterol, including but not limited to:
- Overweight individuals
- Those with a family history of high cholesterol
I exercise regularly and eat right, why do I have high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring fat found in blood – your cells need it, your body produces it, but you also get cholesterol from the foods that you eat. If you consume cholesterol rich foods like eggs, dairy, meats and other animal proteins you can elevate your cholesterol levels, leading to health problems such as blood clots, stroke, heart attack and early death. If you’re a smoker, each cigarette damages your blood vessel’s walls making them more susceptible to fatty deposits in the cells – meaning less blood flow and higher risk of stroke.
Do I need to do anything about my cholesterol? What are the effects of high cholesterol?
Aside from the long-term effects of high cholesterol like heart attack and stroke, high cholesterol doesn’t display any immediate symptoms, leading many patients undiagnosed and untreated. The only way to test and diagnose high cholesterol is through blood tests. There’s good news though! A diagnosis can quickly put you on the road to recovery – whether your doctor prescribes medications, exercise or other lifestyle changes – high cholesterol is very treatable, simple changes can have a big effect!
What are treatments for high cholesterol?
Cholesterol treatments have come a long way, and the good news is that there’s a lot of great ways to lower or eliminate high cholesterol levels, whether it be through diet, exercise, a medical regiment – or all three! Your doctor may prescribe a drug known as a ‘statin’ to help reduce your cholesterol levels.
What are statins and why should I take them?
Statins work by lowering lipid levels that inhibit certain enzymes in your blood and have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease of high-risk patients. They’ve also proven beneficial in treating patients with cardiovascular disease and preventing those at risk from contracting it.
What can you do to prevent high cholesterol?
The best thing you can do to keep your cholesterol levels down is to stay active and eat healthy! Thirty minutes or more of exercise a day and a diet rich in greens, low-fat proteins like poultry and fish can do wonders to lower cholesterol levels. If your doctor determines that you need a lipid-lowering statin, be sure to check out Optum Perks for the lowest prices on a wide-variety of statins.