Picture this. You’ve cooked the usual spread for Thanksgiving that includes a savory turkey, butter smothered biscuits, garlic mashed potatoes, and the best sweet potato pie in the neighborhood. Although it is a routine event that occurs at your house around this time of year, it never ceases to excite your family and friends who look forward to the holiday feast. Your loved ones have grown accustomed to your rich and delicious cooking. They should be. You make a habit of taking care of your family and friends consistently so the holidays bring you much joy. However, since you’ve felt good consistently, you haven’t had regular annual exams in a long time and have neglected self-care regarding your health. 

Now picture having a stroke.

This is all too common. When patients are feeling well, they chose not to visit a doctor on a regular basis. Health scares like this can be prevented with regular annual exams that test cholesterol levels. These should not be just limited to when you feel well but should be administered on a regular basis. 

Most likely, you’ve heard the same advice for years. Keeping a healthy cholesterol level is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The impact of high cholesterol is far-reaching and can turn deadly when not treated appropriately. Understanding the difference between good and bad cholesterol as well as being familiar with high cholesterol symptoms can prevent many critical health issues. MyCare Health Partners focuses on creating comprehensive and preventative health care strategies to ensure you are armed with the care and information needed to combat symptoms of high cholesterol head-on. Being informed is the first step to taking control of your health and we have you covered. 

What is cholesterol

Cholesterol is simply a wax-based substance that helps in the production of healthy cells. When too much is produced, fat deposits are distributed throughout your blood causing blockage to major arteries that eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke if left unmonitored and untreated. That’s because these fatty deposits collect and harden as time goes on. 

When they break off into the bloodstream, they have the potential to clog arteries. It is possible to inherit high cholesterol but it is most often caused by poor lifestyle and diet choices. Through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and medication – symptoms of high cholesterol can be managed. High cholesterol treatment is not an overnight process and requires a commitment to making long-lasting changes for the best results. You should familiarize yourself with the risk factors below: 

  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Obesity
  • Poor eating habits
  • Diabetes

High cholesterol is caused by the presence of lipoproteins, which is the combination of proteins and cholesterol. This type is referred to as low-density lipoproteins or “bad” or “high” cholesterol. Also referred to as LDL, it builds in the walls of a patient’s arteries increasing the risk of blockage and eventual heart attacks or stroke. On the other hand, high-density lipoproteins are helpful in picking up excess cholesterol and taking it back to the liver. 

High cholesterol symptoms & treatment

The scariest part of high cholesterol symptoms is that there are none. The only way to diagnose high cholesterol is through a blood test. However, your risk may be much higher if you fit the profile listed above. Your doctor will inform you if your test results fall outside the desired ranges or may suggest more frequent tests if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Although you may not experience symptoms, you may find out too late through severe complications that include: 

  • Stroke 
  • Chest pain
  • Heart attack

stethoscope

The good news is that these complications can be prevented. Doing your due diligence greatly increases your chances of managing and beating high cholesterol and regaining control of your life. These methods require commitment and consistency to be the most effective: 

  • Low salt diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Quit smoking
  • Increased exercise with an average of 30 minutes a day
  • Moderate alcohol use or eliminate altogether
  • Find ways to manage stress more effectively
  • Maintain a healthy weight and lose weight
  • Moderate the type of healthy fat intake by avoiding saturated fats

As mentioned above, dietary changes are usually very effective in lowering high cholesterol levels and preventing complications. Most of what causes high cholesterol can be found in the food we eat on a daily basis but never think about until we feel ill. We’ve included some quick tips of foods you should avoid that will help lower cholesterol levels and myths that are not effective: 

  • Fatty and processed meats
  • Snack foods
  • Fast food
  • Cakes, pastries, biscuits

Myths: 

  • Avoiding all dairy 
  • Avoiding all eggs & seafood

Although these items contain cholesterol, they are appropriate in moderation. The key is to remember that your body needs cholesterol to function properly but is perfectly equipped to produce its own. High LDL levels are linked to heart disease and should be avoided at all costs. 

Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption, eating fish twice a week, replacing butter with margarine, limiting cheese and ice cream to twice a week, limiting fatty meats in favor of lean meats, and choosing low or reduced-fat milk are the best ways to reduce high LDL levels. Sometimes, if you are at risk for coronary heart disease, your doctor may recommend medication treatment. That’s because in those cases, dietary and lifestyle changes alone are not effective. 

Book an appointment today

Now is the time to take control of your health and get tested for high cholesterol by booking an appointment for an annual exam. Our high-quality network of medical professionals and medical centers will put your mind at ease and ensure you continue to live a healthy life. Still have questions? Visit our website and give us a call today. You’ll be glad you did.