High cholesterol, also known as hyperlipidemia, is a prevalent issue linked with many health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that about 94 million adults in the US have high cholesterol. While high cholesterol is common in adults, it can also affect children. The CDC estimates that 7% of kids and teens in the US have high cholesterol.
Unlike other health issues with obvious symptoms, high cholesterol doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. This is why most people don’t know that their cholesterol level is high until they visit their doctor.
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that is secreted from the liver. It helps in the formation of Vitamin D and hormones. Even more, it is critical for the production and protection of cell membranes.
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Categories of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is categorized by experts as mild, moderate, and severe.
The issue is classified as mild when one’s triglyceride level is between 150 to 199mg/dL. 200 to 499mg/dL is rated as moderate. 500 and above mg/dL is classified as severe.
Be sure to consult your doctor even when you are in the mild and moderate categories. Note that when your triglycerides level crosses the 200mg/dL mark, you will become prone to issues like stroke and atherosclerosis.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
As previously mentioned, high cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms. This is why many experts refer to it as a “silent condition.” Many people won’t know that their cholesterol level is high until they experience serious health complications — like a stroke or heart attack.
Diagnosis of High Cholesterol
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults check their cholesterol levels once every four to six years. Individuals suffering from cardiovascular diseases and those with a history of high cholesterol should check their levels more frequently.
To diagnose if you have high cholesterol, your doctor will collect a small amount of your blood and run some tests. The tests usually take a few minutes. Afterward, your doctor will give you a breakdown of your triglyceride level, LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.
If your cholesterol level is on the high side, your doctor may prescribe medications and recommend some lifestyle changes depending on the results.
How to Treat High Cholesterol
Below are a few things your doctor may recommend to help lower your cholesterol level:
There are a few medications your doctor may prescribe to help bring down your cholesterol level quickly. Here are some of them:
- Statins are a category of drugs that lower your cholesterol level. They work by inhibiting the liver from mass-producing cholesterol.
- Other medications like Zetia, Niacin, PCSK9 inhibitors, and Cholestyramine may also be recommended.
Note that some of these medications can decrease the rate at which your body absorbs cholesterol and can even stop your liver from producing cholesterol.
Your doctor will recommend that you make some changes to your diet to speed things up. You may be advised to do the following:
- Eat foods that are rich in lean protein (e.g. fish, beans, chicken, tofu)
- Eat high-fiber foods like vegetables and fruits
- Reduce consumption of foods that are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fat
How to Manage High Cholesterol
High cholesterol can be addressed without taking statins or other medication. Following a healthy diet, avoiding damaging habits like smoking, and regular exercise will go a long way in helping you reduce your cholesterol level. Below are some herbal supplements that can help speed things up:
- Stanol supplements
While there have been many claims about the effectiveness of these supplements, it is worth noting that the FDA approved these products to address high cholesterol. Before opting for any of them, it is critical that you first inform your doctor.
- What food can increase my cholesterol level? Foods like red meat, chips, deep-fried chicken, muffins, cookies, egg yolks, whole milk, and yogurt.
- How can I lower my cholesterol level quickly? To bring down your cholesterol level quickly, you have to exercise regularly, avoid junk food, and follow a healthy diet that is rich in veggies, fruits, and seeds.
- How often should I check my cholesterol level? The CDC recommends that people above 20 check their cholesterol levels at least once every 4 to 6 years.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!