Hypercholesterolemia or Increase Cholesterol Level, is a condition where a high level of total cholesterol is found in the blood vessels.
Cholesterol is a type of fat, which is insoluble in water and is transported in the blood within lipoprotein molecules. There are two important types of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is known as “good cholesterol.” It’s function is to clean the blood vessels by removing other cholesterol particles for destruction in the liver. A high HDL level is good for cardiovascular health. LDL on the other hand is known as “bad cholesterol.” It accumulates in the blood vessels and lines their walls, narrowing them and turning their initially smooth texture into a rough lining. This causes blood flow to slow down and become more turbulent, which means the heart needs to work much harder to maintain appropriate blood flow throughout the body. This stress put on the heart can eventually lead to hypertension, heart attack, heart failure, aortic dissection, and other potentially fatal conditions.
Reasons for High Cholesterol Levels:
Accumulation of bad cholesterol is attributed to genetic factors as well as lifestyle factors. Fortunately, by modifying diet and exercise and by implementing lifestyle changes, the high level of bad cholesterol can be reversed, and heart disease can be avoided. The following are a few reasons patients may have hypercholesterolemia:
- Obesity: excess fat, especially around the waistline, is one of the main causes of a high level of bad cholesterol.
- Dietary Factors: food high in saturated fats and cholesterol, processed foods, and fast food are some of the main factors which can cause a high level of bad cholesterol.
- Avoiding butter, any packaged foods, red meat, and fried food is a simple step patients can take to reduce their cholesterol level and increase their quality of life.
- Comorbidities: oftentimes patients with diabetes and other genetic or lifestyle diseases will have a high level of cholesterol. It is important to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly if you have other chronic conditions.
- Family history: occasionally high levels of bad cholesterol are due to genetics, and may need to be treated with medications as well as lifestyle improvements.
A blood test known as a lipid panel is used to determine the level of each type of fat in your bloodstream. The following are optimal, borderline, and disease-causing levels of each type of fat. As you can see, HDL (good cholesterol), is better when the level is higher, and LDL, along with all the other types of cholesterol, is better when the level is lower:
Management and treatment of High Cholesterol Level:
Making smart lifestyle decisions is the number one most important treatment for improving your lipid panel profile and reducing high amounts of bad cholesterol. Vital lifestyle improvements include:
- Reduce weight
- Avoid bad foods
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
If lifestyle changes are made and are not enough of an intervention to lower cholesterol to optimal levels, then medications called statins are used as well. These medications are used in thousands of patients throughout the country, and work very well to reduce levels of bad cholesterol.
Role of Health Professional:
The health professionals at DOCCS are happy to help patients with improving their cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease. They have worked with hundreds of patients with hypercholesterolemia, many of which have already shown signs of heart disease.
The DOCCS physicians will provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of your lipid profile and will provide you with specific goals and a detailed treatment plan to help you reach these goals.
Our nutritionist can provide one-on-one coaching to help you with implementing a lipid-friendly diet. Other staff members will give you advice on an exercise plan that will work for your life and will track your progress with you and your physician.
Finally, because hypercholesterolemia is often found co-existing with other conditions, our physicians will screen you for those conditions with which it commonly resides.