The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 94 million adults 20 and older in the United States have high cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Primary care services at CN Internal Medicine in Alexandria and Lansdowne, Virginia, include routine health screenings for various chronic conditions, including elevated cholesterol. They also work to uncover the cause of elevated cholesterol (which is not always your diet) and develop a personalized treatment that protects your arteries and heart health. Schedule a visit today. Call the office or request an appointment online.
Cholesterol is a waxy fat your body uses to build cells, make vitamin D, and produce hormones. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs for good health.
You also obtain cholesterol from foods you eat, namely animal-based products like meat, poultry, and dairy foods. At the same time, foods high in saturated fats (like meat and many baked goods) trigger the liver to produce even more cholesterol.
The two most famous types of cholesterol are HDL (good) and LDL (bad). HDL is “good” because it travels through your bloodstream and picks up excess LDL, transporting it back to your liver for storage. Unfortunately, it can’t keep up when your LDL levels are excessively high.
LDL cholesterol is a sticky substance that clumps with other substances in your bloodstream, eventually forming plaque along artery walls. As a plaque grows, the affected artery narrows, restricting blood flow through the vessel. Sometimes portions of the plaque can break away and form a blood clot.
Plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) is the leading cause of coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, and stroke. It also causes peripheral arterial disease (PAD), blocking blood flow to your arms and legs and resulting in leg pain with exercise (claudication), persistent swelling, and slow healing skin ulcers.
Diet is a significant contributor, but other conditions can also cause elevated cholesterol levels, including:
Some acne and high blood pressure medications can also raise your LDL cholesterol.
At CN Internal Medicine, treatment begins with a physical exam, review of your medical history, medication review, and diagnostic studies, including a complete lipid profile to measure your LDL, HDL, and other blood fats.
Based on your evaluation results, your customized treatment strategy can include a medication called statins to block your liver from making cholesterol. Other drugs, like Zetia®, also called ezetimibe, limit your intestine’s absorption of dietary cholesterol.
Changes in your diet, increased physical activity, and weight loss (if necessary) are essential components of cholesterol management. They might be all you need to reduce your levels.
Schedule an evaluation at CN Internal Medicine today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.