While people are living longer, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Every year more than 800,000 Americans have a heart attack, and another 800,000 have a stroke. Managing risk factors is key to lowering your risk of heart disease. High cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Partnering with a health care provider is a wise first step in protecting your heart health. Expert physician Dr. Prabhdeep Singh is devoted to your health and wellbeing. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes significantly increase your risk of heart problems. If your cholesterol is high, there are ways you can manage your cholesterol so that you keep your heart as healthy as possible.
Of the different forms of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is sometimes called “bad cholesterol,” is strongly linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. LDL shuttles cholesterol around the body and deposits it in your organs. This contributes to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and other places. Over time excess cholesterol can cause arteries to narrow and become blocked, setting the stage for heart attack or stroke.
Diet and a variation in genes you inherit contribute to the development of elevated cholesterol. When it comes to dietary components, saturated fat intake is most strongly linked to a higher LDL level. Fortunately, adopting a heart-healthy diet and making some changes to your lifestyle, such as getting plenty of moderate-intensity exercise, helps to lower cholesterol.
For some patients, diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to bring cholesterol within a normal range. In some people, the liver fails to remove cholesterol efficiently. This may happen if you have a liver disorder or take medication that affects liver function. Others have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol. When this is the case, your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your cholesterol levels.
The target cholesterol level your doctor recommends for you depends on various factors, including age and current health status. Cholesterol is measured in three primary categories:
A healthy cholesterol profile has a balance of these levels. A desirable level of total cholesterol for adults is below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Most people should aim for an LDL cholesterol level below 100 mg/dl to stay out of the danger zone.
HDL cholesterol is considered a beneficial form of cholesterol. It helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream to lower circulating cholesterol levels. An HDL level of 60 mg/dl or higher is desirable.
Managing your cholesterol levels is key to protecting your heart health. Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked. Because high cholesterol doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, screening is the only way to know your numbers. If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels, your doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to bring your levels out of the red zone and into a healthy target range.
To learn more about how you can protect your heart, contact our El Centro, California office at 760-208-1338 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Singh. You can also book online at your convenience.