Having High Cholesterol or Hyperlipidemia
The word “cholesterol” tends to worry people because they automatically associate it with poor heart health. However, cholesterol – which is found in the body cells of all animals and humans – is actually essential for life. In fact, your body needs it to work properly. Too much cholesterol, however, is unhealthy and can lead to heart disease and other complications.
As a primary care physician for adults, one of the most common conditions Dr. Richard sees is cholesterol, or lipid, disorders – specifically high cholesterol and triglycerides.
There are two basic kinds of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol. An easy way to remember them is to think “H” for healthy and “L” for lousy. LDL can cause heart disease while HDL helps eliminate LDL from your body.
In those with high blood cholesterol (a disorder known as hyperlipidemia), an unusually high level of LDL cholesterol accumulates in the inner walls of the arteries that carry blood to the heart and brain. When this happens, the arteries become narrower and eventually may be blocked completely, triggering chest pain (angina), heart attack, or stroke. This narrowing of the arteries may be referred to as atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, or coronary artery disease.
High blood cholesterol is often caused by one’s diet. When you eat food that comes from an animal – such as meat and dairy products – you add cholesterol to your blood. If these foods are high in saturated fat, it may contribute to high cholesterol.
However, there are other factors that can lead to high blood cholesterol as well, including:
• Being overweight
• Not exercising enough
• Smoking cigarettes
• Excessive alcohol use
• A family history of high cholesterol
• Your age (LDL levels tend to rise as you get older)
• Certain diseases, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, and kidney failure
• Certain medications, including beta-blockers, estrogen, corticosteroids, birth control pills, and diuretics
Triglycerides are fats from the foods that build up in your blood as your body converts excess calories to fat. High levels of triglycerides are unhealthy and contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease.
Many types of foods can cause an increase in triglycerides, such as those high in simple and added sugar, saturated and trans fats, and refined grains/processed foods.
Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) contains mostly triglycerides.
Internist Dr. Jonathan Richard is specially trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating cholesterol disorders and can help you improve and maintain your health and well-being. Call our Colleyville, Texas primary care office today at (817) 581-6800 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Richard or use our online form to request an appointment.