Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Your body needs cholesterol, which is a fat, or lipid, to produce hormones and cell membranes. However, too much cholesterol in your blood can create serious health problems. Cardiologists at Bassett Healthcare Network are here to help you meet and maintain good cholesterol levels.
Lipids are fats, and blood is mostly water. Fat and water don’t mix, so we need lipoproteins (lipids packaged in a protein shell) to carry the lipids. There are two main kinds of lipoproteins:
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the “bad” cholesterol. Too much LDL in your blood can clog your arteries and cause atherosclerosis, leading to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is considered the “good” cholesterol because it helps to prevent LDL cholesterol from sticking to artery walls and clogging them
A third type of blood fat, triglycerides, converts and stores the calories you eat but don’t need right away. High triglyceride levels are another cause of atherosclerosis.
High Cholesterol Symptoms
Usually, high cholesterol presents no symptoms. Like high blood pressure, it’s viewed as a silent disease. Unless you experience a heart attack, heart failure, heart valve disease, or other heart condition, the only way to know you have high cholesterol is to be tested for it.
The cardiology team at Bassett Healthcare Network uses a simple blood test called a cholesterol panel to examine cholesterol levels. It’s a routine screening given during physical examinations.
What Causes High Cholesterol
Most of the cholesterol your body needs – about 75 percent of your blood cholesterol – is produced by your body itself. The remainder is from animal fats in the food you eat. If you eat too many animal fats, or your body produces too much cholesterol, you can have high cholesterol.
How to Lower Cholesterol Levels
Bassett Healthcare Network provides high cholesterol treatment at our Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Clinic Program. The program includes:
- Cholesterol and lipid profile testing and management
- Management of high blood pressure
- Help in smoking cessation
- Nutrition and weight loss counseling
- Exercise counseling
- Screening tests for heart disease
Our cardiologists recommend that people eat two servings of fish each week to avoid high cholesterol levels. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol. Other foods that lower cholesterol include whole grains, such as oats and barley, avocados, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), fruits and berries, and vegetables.
As part of our comprehensive heart care, our practitioners also may prescribe medications, such as statins, which are safe and effective for lowering cholesterol levels. However, taking medication is not a substitute for exercise or a heart-healthy diet.
Schedule an Appointment for a Consultation
Healthy HDL and LDL cholesterol levels can usually be controlled by following a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, no smoking, and, in some instances, medications. Regular screenings are the best way to know if your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are getting too high. Ask your primary care practitioner or heart specialist to schedule a consultation to learn more about managing your cholesterol.
Bassett Healthcare Network provides screenings and treatment for high cholesterol in Central New York, in Cooperstown, Cobleskill, Herkimer, Oneonta, Little Falls, Delhi, and beyond.