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Your body needs cholesterol to create healthy cells, but too much of it can raise your risk of heart disease. Luc Oke, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist with years of experience treating high cholesterol. He provides expert diagnosis and treatment at Heart Consultants in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, DC. To schedule an appointment, call your nearest office or book online today.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your blood that your liver produces to create cells, vitamin D, and hormones. While vital to your overall health, cholesterol is a fat-like lipid that can build up in your blood.
Too much cholesterol in your blood slows blood flow and creates blockages that can raise your risk of serious conditions, such as stroke and heart attack.
Cholesterol isn’t water-soluble; it can’t dissolve in water. To ensure your cholesterol moves smoothly through your body, the liver produces lipoproteins that help transport cholesterol through the bloodstream. There are two main types of lipoproteins that impact your health:
Also known as “bad” cholesterol, LDL can build up in your arteries and create serious problems for your blood flow, including hardening or narrowing the arteries.
Most experts call HDL “good” cholesterol because it picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and sends it back to your liver before it has a chance to build up.
While a buildup of plaque in the blood causes high cholesterol, there are many factors that put you at risk, such as:
While your body naturally produces cholesterol, it’s also in the food you eat. A diet high in saturated fat, red meat, junk food, and dairy products can raise your LDL cholesterol levels and put you at risk of complications like stroke, heart attack, and chest pain.
Dr. Oke uses a lipid panel — a blood test to measure your lipid levels — to evaluate total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, high cholesterol, and triglycerides (fat in the blood). If your cholesterol is too high, he may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Certain medications, such as fibrates and niacin, help slow your body’s ability to produce LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also help lower your triglycerides.
A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and oily fish like salmon can help increase your HDL cholesterol levels to minimize the impact of LDL cholesterol.
Losing even 5-10 pounds can help lower your cholesterol, so it’s important to combine a healthy diet with regular exercise.
If you have high cholesterol, schedule an appointment with Dr. Oke at Heart Consultants. Call the office or book a visit online today.