If you have diabetes, a large waist circumference, or consume a lot of full-fat dairy products or red meat, you’re at higher risk of developing high cholesterol, a condition that can increase your chances of developing heart disease. Blood tests conducted during your annual physical exam can help determine whether you’re suffering from this dangerous — and very manageable — condition. To find out more, contact Dr. Michael S. Basch at Talia Medical Group in Temecula, California, today.
To understand high cholesterol, you must first understand cholesterol, which is a lipid (fat) found in the bloodstream. High cholesterol occurs when you have elevated levels of potentially damaging cholesterol in your blood, as measured by a lab test.
When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it begins to build up along the walls of your arteries, eventually narrowing or even blocking the passageway altogether. These narrowed areas can cause high blood pressure, a heart attack, or other serious complications.
There are no signs and symptoms of high cholesterol, but if it goes undetected, you may begin to experience the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, which include angina (chest pain), dizziness, weakness, sweating, and left jaw pain. Chest pain is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
Because high cholesterol is a silent killer (producing no symptoms), it’s most commonly diagnosed during a regular annual exam. Blood tests to measure cholesterol are ordered for patients who meet certain risk factors, and then Dr. Basch reviews the results to determine whether your lipid levels are within normal ranges. When they aren’t, you may be diagnosed with high cholesterol or borderline high cholesterol.
Treatment always includes lifestyle changes and may sometimes also include medications. Periodic lab tests might be ordered to evaluate the efficacy of the treatment plan so that you can make adjustments when necessary.
Patients who are physically inactive, have a large waist circumference -- over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women -- smoke, or consume a lot of red meat or full-fat dairy products are at highest risk of high cholesterol.
In most cases, yes. If you make a conscious effort to limit intake of unsaturated fats and make healthy lifestyle choices before you develop high cholesterol, you may be able to prevent the disease altogether. Ask Dr. Basch what measures you can take to maintain optimal health for as long as possible.