High cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. In fact, it nearly doubles the chance of developing atherosclerosis. Drs. Timothy Leigh Rodgers, Brittany Bryan, and Dennis H. Baker at Premium Care Internal Medicine encourage you to get regular cholesterol screenings because that’s the only way to catch the problem before you develop coronary artery disease. If you’re interested in personalized care to lower cholesterol, or you simply have questions about your health, don’t hesitate to call our office in Santa Barbara, California.
Two types of lipids lead to health problems when blood levels are too high — cholesterol and triglycerides. You can inherit lipid disorders or develop them from an underlying health condition, but they’re often the result of lifestyle risk factors such as being overweight and an unhealthy diet. Lipid disorders increase your risk for atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke.
Cholesterol (and other fats) can’t travel through your bloodstream in their normal state because blood is mostly water. Your body turns cholesterol into lipoproteins — little packages consisting of cholesterol and fats enclosed in a water-compatible shell.
There are different types of lipoproteins that each have different functions. The type of lipoprotein determines whether the cholesterol it carries is good or bad.
High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, are called good cholesterol because they collect cholesterol and eliminate it from your body. Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, are known as bad cholesterol because they stay in the bloodstream.
LDLs are responsible for delivering cholesterol to cells throughout your body, where it’s needed to keep you healthy. But this means that LDLs stay circulating in your bloodstream, where the cholesterol they carry can get stuck to blood vessel walls, build up, and cause coronary artery disease.
We take a comprehensive approach to treating each patient which includes running lab tests to determine your blood lipid profile, so we can accurately consider levels of total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and other types of lipoproteins circulating to evaluate the overall impact on your health.
When you meet with your doctor at Premium Care Internal Medicine, you will receive a thorough medical examination to rule out an underlying medical condition that can cause high cholesterol. Diabetes, thyroid disorders, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and kidney disease are a few of the health problems that can raise cholesterol.
Lifestyle changes are included in the first line of treatment. You may need to eat more foods known to lower cholesterol, while consuming fewer foods that raise cholesterol. Exercise is another key component of your treatment plan because it boosts healthy HDL levels.
If lifestyle changes don’t get your cholesterol down to normal levels, you may need medication. Your doctor considers a variety of possible medications and potential side effects, then chooses the one that’s best suited for your age and overall health.