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How Do I Know If I Have High Cholesterol?

How Do I Know If I Have High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a common health concern that often goes undetected due to its lack of noticeable symptoms. Despite its silent nature, it's a significant risk factor for heart disease. Understanding high cholesterol and how to manage it is a crucial aspect of preventive health care. 

Navigating elevated cholesterol is made easier under the guidance of experienced professionals like Dr. Prabhdeep Singh, a board-certified internal medicine physician. Dr. Singh has been instrumental in helping patients manage cholesterol levels effectively.

Understanding cholesterol

Cholesterol is a lipid, and it isn’t inherently bad. This waxy substance is beneficial for your body at healthy levels. In fact, cholesterol plays several crucial roles, such as making hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. 

Cholesterol is categorized into two types: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol, and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol.

The right balance of cholesterol is important for your heart health and overall wellness. Too much LDL or too little HDL can result in cholesterol buildup in your arteries, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

What are normal cholesterol levels?

It's recommended you aim for a total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) should ideally be under 100 mg/dL, whereas a higher value of 60 mg/dL or more is desirable for high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Triglycerides, another form of fat in your blood, are best kept under 150 mg/dL. 

However, these are general guidelines. Personal targets may differ based on various factors such as age, gender, family history, and other health conditions. 

Detecting high cholesterol

Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. This is why it's often referred to as a silent disease. It can quietly contribute to the narrowing of your arteries without you feeling anything amiss.

The most reliable way to know if you have high cholesterol is through a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test measures LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Adults aged 20 or older are recommended to have their cholesterol tested every 4-6 years. However, if you have risk factors like a family history of high cholesterol, obesity, a diet high in saturated fats, smoking, or diseases like diabetes, you may need to get checked more frequently.

How to manage high cholesterol

Managing high cholesterol levels effectively involves a two-pronged approach: lifestyle modifications and, in some cases, medication. Lifestyle changes are the first line of defense. This involves eating a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains while limiting your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol-rich foods. 

Regular physical activity is another cornerstone of managing cholesterol levels, as it can help raise your HDL levels while lowering your LDL levels.

Even with these lifestyle changes, some individuals may still struggle with high cholesterol due to genetic factors. This is where medical intervention comes into play. Statins, a class of drugs that help lower cholesterol levels in your blood, may be prescribed to supplement lifestyle changes. 

These medications help prevent your liver from making cholesterol and can also assist your body in reabsorbing cholesterol buildup on your artery walls.

Don't let high cholesterol sneak up on you. Regular checkups, a balanced diet, and an active lifestyle are key. If you have any concerns about your cholesterol levels, stop in to see Dr. Singh for a cholesterol check. We’re here to guide you toward better health. 

Call our El Centro, California, office at 760-203-3534 to schedule a visit or request an appointment online today. 

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