Cholesterol is a fatty material your body uses for vital functions like vitamin D and hormone production. It also aids digestion. Some cholesterol is essential, but your body produces most of what you need.
The problem is that there are good and bad forms of cholesterol. The healthy or good cholesterol — high-density lipoprotein — performs the functions mentioned above. It also transports the unhealthy or bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL and very-low-density lipoprotein or VLDL) to your liver for processing.
You could be consuming excess LDL and VLDL if you eat a lot of:
High cholesterol levels could have serious consequences for your health. You can identify unhealthy cholesterol levels at an early stage with a simple blood test. This might form part of your annual physical exam, or you can request a test at any time.
The main issue with having high cholesterol is that it causes atherosclerosis. This condition develops when the surplus cholesterol in your blood clumps together with calcium and other particles to form plaque. This sticky plaque coats the inside of your blood vessels and builds up to such an extent that it makes your arteries too narrow for proper blood flow.
Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of several potentially life-threatening disorders, including:
CAD is atherosclerosis in the arteries that deliver oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Left untreated, CAD can lead to heart attacks.
The carotid arteries in your neck take blood to your head. Atherosclerosis in these arteries restricts blood flow to your brain, which can cause a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A complete blockage can cause a stroke.
PAD is atherosclerosis in your leg or arm arteries. It most commonly causes problems in the legs, including claudication (pain when walking) and arterial ulcers. Ulcers are slow-healing, open wounds that are hard to heal and prone to infection. They may lead to amputation in severe cases.
If you have high cholesterol, your provider at Peridot Primary Care can prescribe medications like statins that lower cholesterol levels in your blood. However, you might not need them if you get an early diagnosis and take steps to change your lifestyle.
Losing excess weight, eating a diet low in foods containing saturated fats, and exercising regularly can effectively address high cholesterol. Your provider gives you the information you need to help you eat healthier and support you with weight loss programs.
To find out more or arrange your cholesterol test, call Peridot Primary Care today or book an appointment online.