Cholesterol has important jobs to fill in your body, like making hormones and digesting fats, but too much cholesterol in your blood can lead to serious health problems. As cholesterol travels through your bloodstream, it can get stuck on artery walls, build up, and form hardened plaque. Over time, these deposits can get thick enough to narrow the artery, or the plaque can break open and get stuck in a blood vessel. In both cases, the flow of blood can be blocked, which causes:
When cholesterol travels through your bloodstream, it’s packaged up and carried by special proteins called lipoproteins, Different kinds of lipoproteins contain varying amounts of cholesterol and protein, and have different jobs.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) have more protein and less fat. They travel through the bloodstream, scarfing up excess cholesterol, then carry it back to the liver for processing. In other words, HDL is a good type of blood cholesterol because it helps get cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) have less protein and more cholesterol because their job is to carry cholesterol throughout the body, delivering it to cells that need cholesterol. But they’re the so-called bad blood cholesterol because that cholesterol can end up stuck to your arteries.
Poor lifestyle habits are the primary cause of high cholesterol, so changing those habits is the first line of treatment recommended by Dr. Willis. These therapeutic lifestyle changes include:
Diet: Eliminate unhealthy trans fats found in some processed foods, because these fats raise cholesterol. Enjoy poultry and fish more often than processed meats, and choose grass-fed beef and dairy, which contain healthier forms of fats. You’ll also need to limit added sugar and increase the soluble fiber in your diet.
Weight: If necessary, lose weight by controlling calories and getting regular exercise.
Physical activity: Try to get 30 minutes of daily activity; exercise alone can help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.
Dr. Willis understands that making changes to your diet, starting an exercise routine, and losing weight are not easy, so she explains which changes to make and how to do it, provides encouragement, and helps you find support for your effort.
Medical treatment is always an option if lifestyle changes fail to get cholesterol back to normal levels. When necessary, Dr. Willis will prescribe one of the medications approved to lower cholesterol. She’ll also screen you for any underlying health conditions that may affect cholesterol, such as diabetes, which is known to raise bad cholesterol, while lowering good cholesterol.
We work with the majority of health insurance plans. Please call our office if you do not see yours listed or have any other questions.
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