Cholesterol and Heart Disease

About 2 in 5 adults in the United States have high cholesterol, which puts them at risk for heart disease and stroke. The condition can have no symptoms, so the only way to know whether you have it is to get a blood test called a lipid profile or cholesterol level test. There are a number of things that can raise your cholesterol, including unhealthy eating habits, not getting enough exercise and certain medications.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that helps build healthy cells and makes certain hormones. However, when levels are too high, it can cause fatty deposits to build up in your blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood that can flow to your heart and other organs. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The main causes of high cholesterol are a poor diet, obesity and not getting enough exercise. It is also more common as you age, and heredity can play a role in your chances of having it, especially if someone else in your family has it. Other risk factors include smoking, a family history of high cholesterol or diabetes and certain chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high cholesterol because the disease can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides and lower “good” cholesterol. High cholesterol can also be caused by some medical conditions like thyroid disease, polycystic ovary syndrome and some infections like HIV or hepatitis C.

Some medications can also cause your cholesterol to rise, such as steroids and some anti-rejection drugs used after organ transplants. It is possible to prevent high cholesterol by eating a balanced diet and doing regular exercise. Choose whole grains, vegetables, fruits and unsalted nuts and seeds instead of high-fat dairy products and fried foods. Limit red meat and choose fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel instead of processed meats. Choose fats from plants such as olive or canola oil and avocados instead of saturated and trans fats.

If you have high cholesterol, it is important to talk with your doctor about ways to improve it. They may recommend some lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, not smoking and exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. They may also suggest medications, such as statins, which help to reduce cholesterol levels. They might also advise you to avoid some foods, such as foods containing saturated or trans fats, as well as alcohol and salt. If you have a family history of heart disease or diabetes, it is particularly important to follow your doctor’s advice about cholesterol. The earlier you begin to treat it, the more likely you are to live longer. For more information on how to manage your cholesterol, visit our High Cholesterol page.

Should you wish to discuss your condition with an experienced Australian trained Doctor or expert in this area. Please book in for an online and Telehealth consultation. Phenix Health is always available when you need us 24/7. Contact