About 10% to 15% of men and women in various ethnic groups in the U.S. struggle with high cholesterol levels. Although it typically lacks symptoms, high cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, blocked arteries, and other dangerous complications. Family doctors often suggest a variety of lifestyle changes to help lower such levels. Consult the guide below for more information about cholesterol.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol of all kinds are attached to protein, and together, they are known as lipoproteins. Bad cholesterol creates low-density lipoproteins, which accumulate in your arteries, causing your arteries to become hard and/or blocked and compromising blood flow. Good cholesterol becomes high-density lipoproteins, carrying surplus cholesterol to your liver to be flushed out.
Trans and saturated fats are strong contributors to high levels of bad cholesterol. They can usually be found in full-fat dairy products, red meat, dark poultry meat, margarine, pizza, popcorn, crackers, cookies, and more. Obesity, whether caused by excess consumption of these items or other issues, may lead to high cholesterol as well.
Regardless of whether you’re obese, failing to exercise regularly is another risk factor. Since smoking reduces your levels of good cholesterol while encouraging fat buildup, it’s an especially dangerous contributor.
However, high cholesterol isn’t always caused by lifestyle choices. Diabetes is known for leading to it as well. Age plays a role, too, since your liver has more difficulty getting rid of bad cholesterol as you grow older. Some people are simply genetically prone to it.
How Can You Lower It?
You may not be able to prevent certain risk factors, like age and diabetes, but you can take steps to control what you can.
Minimize your intake of sodium and both trans and saturated fats, focusing instead on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Get into the habit of exercising regularly, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, five days per week. If you smoke, buy nicotine patches, join a support group, and get the help of a family doctor to quit.
Additionally, reduce unnecessary stress in your life, as excess stress lowers your mental resistance to developing unhealthy habits that can lead to high cholesterol.
For help managing your cholesterol levels, see the family doctors at HDR Healthcare Network in the Bronx, NY. They have a passion for running a medical center that provides everyone in their community with access to attentive and compassionate family medicine, pediatrics, urgent care, and more. They even offer mental health and dentistry services, consistent with their dedication to offering comprehensive health care to all their patients. To schedule an appointment with a family doctor, call (718) 617-2500 or check out their website to browse their services.