High Cholesterol Specialist
Why is Cholesterol a Problem That Requires Management?
Everyone needs some cholesterol in their body. However, when individuals have an excessive amount of cholesterol this leads to cardiovascular disease. Considering that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the US, it’s imperative to control cholesterol. Through cholesterol management patients can reduce their chance of dying from cardiovascular disease or a heart attack.
How can a primary care doctor help with Cholesterol Management?
Too much of the bad cholesterol blocks arteries and weakens the heart’s ability to work successfully. A primary care doctor can diagnose, treat and monitor patients who are struggling with high cholesterol. They are prepared to promote lifestyle changes, prescription medications, and proper knowledge regarding cholesterol issues.
What is a “Bad” and Good” Cholesterol?
Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called “plaque.” As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing blocks blood flow to and from your heart and other organs.
What is the Treatment Options Most Commonly Associated With Managing Cholesterol?
For patients who have a family history of high cholesterol, often medications are the primary focus. However, lifestyle modifications are considered a healthier option. After all, exercise and healthy eating have several benefits beyond cholesterol management. If possible, lifestyle changes are made, such as increased exercise or dietary alterations, so to lower cholesterol. If these changes do not benefit the patient, then prescription medications, such as statin drugs, are used to control cholesterol in the body.
How can I lower cholesterol with diet?
Choose healthier fats. You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat.
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat; it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL (good cholesterol). Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and French fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include
Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat bran
Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes
Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fiber
Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids won’t lower your LDL level, but they may help raise your HDL level. They may also protect your heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce your risk of heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), and mackerel. Try to eat these fish two times a week.