High cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia affects 42 million Americans and 63 million Americans have borderline high cholesterol. Excessive cholesterol can lead to build up of fatty deposits in our blood vessels or plaque formation. This can also lead to coronary artery disease, heart attacks, strokes and difficulty of blood flow to lower extremities (peripheral artery disease).
It is recommended that everyone have their cholesterol checked at the age of 20 and every 5 years. If your cholesterol or lipid profile is abnormal, you may need to have it checked more frequently than that.
Reasons for elevated cholesterol:
- Family history
- Lifestyle – eating and exercise habits
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Underactive Thyroid
- Chronic Kidney Disease
The goal for total cholesterol should be under 200. There are two types of cholesterol:
- HDL Cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol. High levels have been shown to decrease heart disease. The levels should be 55 & over for women and greater than 45 for men.
- LDL Cholesterol is “bad” cholesterol and is associated with plaque formation. LDL levels depend on certain risk factors like: Age, gender, whether you are a smoker, have diabetes or hypertension. If you have multiple risk factors, you may want a LDL cholesterol as low as 70. If you are healthy and have no risk factors, it may be okay to have a LDL level as high as 160.
- Reduce intake of fat
- Increase activity
- Control other health issues (example: diabetes, high blood pressure)
- Increase fiber in diet (try eating cereals, fruits and vegetables)
If your goal is not reached through behavior modification, there are medications we can use to improve your cholesterol.
About Dr. Spinelli:
Dr. Linda Spinelli is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. She sees patients in our Middleburg Heights (Southwest) office.