HT Family Physicians
Family Medicine located in Stockton, CA & Lodi, CA
Nearly a third of all adults in the United States, or approximately 71 million Americans, have unhealthy cholesterol levels. While you may know that having high cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease, you may not know that the risk is nearly double than the risk carried by people with healthy levels. From two office locations in Stockton and Lodi, California, the expert team at HT Family Physicians provide effective treatment options for patients with cholesterol disorders. If you’re in the greater San Joaquin area, call or book your appointment online today.
High Cholesterol Q & A
What is a cholesterol disorder?
Cholesterol is an essential substance that your body uses to produce healthy cells. The waxy material can also found be found in the lipids, or fats, which circulate in your blood.
If you’ve been told you have a cholesterol disorder, it means you have abnormal blood cholesterol levels:
- Hypolipidemia, or uncommonly low blood cholesterol levels
- Hyperlipidemia, or unusually high blood cholesterol levels
Of the two, hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, is both the most common and the most detrimental to your long-term health.
What are the different types of cholesterol?
The two different types of cholesterol that circulate freely in your blood are characterized by how they behave:
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Also known as “good” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol picks up excess blood cholesterol and carries it back to your liver for processing.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
Also known as “bad” cholesterol, LDL carries cholesterol throughout your body, where it builds up on the walls of your arteries and makes them hard and inflexible.
How is high cholesterol diagnosed?
There are no outward signs or symptoms for high cholesterol, and the only way to diagnose it is by having a blood test. Your cholesterol levels are evaluated with a lipid panel, which is a fasting blood test that requires you to avoid all food and liquids, other than water, for at least nine hours before your blood is drawn.
Healthy cholesterol levels are:
- Total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol levels below 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL
For people with heart disease or diabetes, the desirable range for LDL cholesterol is below 70 mg/dL.
Unhealthy cholesterol levels are:
- Total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol levels above 160 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL for men, and 50 mg/dL for women
How is high cholesterol treated?
Although high cholesterol is a highly treatable problem, fewer than half of all people with the disorder receive treatment.
Often, the first step in lowering high cholesterol levels is making the lifestyle adjustments that promote healthy blood lipid levels.
This includes following a nutritious, whole-foods based diet that’s low in total fat, saturated fat, and added sugars. It also includes increasing your physical activity and losing weight, if necessary.
Your doctor at HT Family Physicians may recommend medication if your cholesterol levels are dangerously high, or if your body doesn’t respond to lifestyle interventions quickly enough.
Statins, which may be prescribed along with bile acid-binding resins, can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors help reduce the amount of cholesterol you absorb from your diet, while injectable medications prompt your liver to absorb more LDL cholesterol.