Dr. Dougherty explains that cholesterol is a substance that is found in everyone’s blood and is required for our body to function. When your cholesterol is tested, there are several components: total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (not truly cholesterol but often are measured at the same time).
Treatment of “cholesterol” predominantly focuses on lowering LDL cholesterol and in some situations, lowering triglycerides. Lowering your LDL, regardless of your starting cholesterol (and irrespective of whether through lifestyle changes, medications or a combination) results in a reduction in cardiac events (i.e., heart attacks). Knowing your cholesterol and partnering with your healthcare provider to optimize it is an essential part of a strong and healthy heart!
Dr. Walden shares that cholesterol management is a key area that cardiologists focus on to manage coronary disease and prevent cardiovascular disease. It is important for every individual to identify their long-term cardiovascular risks and commit to a healthy lifestyle, including cholesterol reduction. It is critical that you understand your risk factors.
Age, gender, and disease such as diabetes and hypertension impact your level of risk. Other risk factors include family history and conditions including metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, preeclampsia, premature menopause, and chronic systemic inflammatory disorders. An individual’s risk assessment is usually part of a comprehensive consultation with a primary care doctor or cardiologist.
Your intake of certain fats and carbohydrates is the biggest dietary influence on blood cholesterol levels. Physician Assistant, Johanna Butler Cahill, shares that it is important to lower or maintain a healthy range of LDL by exchanging saturated and trans fats such as red meat, butter, and baked goods, for monounsaturated fats like avocado, salmon, and nuts. Help raise your HDL and lower triglycerides with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids including fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds. High soluble fiber foods, like citrus fruits, whole grains, and legumes make it harder for the gut to absorb unhealthy fats. Consider a detailed diet evaluation for further cholesterol improvement.
Below are some resources provided by the CDC.
Make sure to talk to your cardiologist about how to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels.