When you have high cholesterol, you’re at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol has no real outward symptoms, so it’s important to get tested regularly. At Lancaster Family Health in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dr. Mark Cohen and Dr. Christopher Porter can schedule you for your regular cholesterol blood work and manage high cholesterol should you have it. Call the office or book an appointment online to check this critical health marker today.
Your body produces cholesterol, a waxy substance that circulates in your blood. You need some cholesterol to build healthy cells, but too much can clog blood vessels.
If the harmful cholesterol levels in your blood get too high, it can lead to the formation of hard deposits on the inside of your arteries, causing atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries are less flexible. This makes it hard for blood to flow smoothly through your arteries. If a blood clot gets caught in one of these clogged arteries, a stroke or heart attack can result.
High cholesterol can be an inherited condition. In many cases, however, your lifestyle choices affect your cholesterol levels. An unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity contribute to excessive cholesterol levels. Smokers and people who have diabetes are also at greater risk of elevated cholesterol.
High cholesterol can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, known as a lipid panel or lipid profile. The test measures your:
You fast before the test, meaning you have no food or beverages (aside from water) for about 12 hours prior to having your blood drawn. Many patients prefer to fast overnight and get blood drawn in the morning.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood. A total cholesterol of below 200 mg/dl is desirable. The doctors also like to see your LDL below 100 for most people, but less than 70 if you have heart disease. An HDL level of above 60 is a further indicator of healthy cholesterol levels, and you want triglyceride levels of below 150.
If you have high cholesterol or triglycerides, a healthy diet and exercise can help lower it. Examples of lifestyle changes that support healthy cholesterol levels include:
If lifestyle changes don’t bring cholesterol levels down, medications are sometimes recommended.
To learn more about high cholesterol and its impact on your health, call Lancaster Family Health or book an appointment online.