There are many commercials and magazine ads for cholesterol medications. So many, in fact, that high cholesterol has begun to seem like a normal, everyday occurrence and nothing to worry about. In reality, high cholesterol—especially high LDL cholesterol that goes untreated could kill you or leave you permanently disabled. If you don’t know anything about cholesterol, it is time you decided to learn.
If you have high cholesterol, you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is a fat that is produced by animals—including humans. It requires certain cells to carry it around the body and must be brought to the liver to be synthesized. If you consume too much animal fat and have high cholesterol, then it will sit in your arteries and build up—unable to be brought to the liver. This can cause a blockage in the arteries around your heart which will cause a heart attack. It can also block an artery in your neck, the carotid artery, which can cause stroke.
There are two types of cholesterol—HDL and LDL.
HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol. It is dense and can help to carry LDL cholesterol into the liver. Obviously, the more HDL you have to carry the bad cholesterol out of your arteries and into your liver, the better off you are.
LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol. It can’t make it on its own to the liver for processing and can stop blood and oxygen flow to and from your brain and heart.
Cholesterol medication can help your body reduce the amount of LDL you have by blocking your own liver’s production of cholesterol, by increasing your HDL or by binding the bile in your liver that has cholesterol and preventing it from going back into your circulatory system.
There are many different types of medications to choose from. Your primary care physician will decide which is best for you based on your cholesterol level, activity level and drug reactions. Some of the options he or she may discuss with you are:
If you think you have high cholesterol, one of the best things you can do is reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume. Saturated fat is animal fat and is often high in LDL cholesterol. By reducing this, you can help to keep your arteries free and clear. Exercise is also helpful in the battle against high cholesterol. With regular exercise, you can raise your HDL which allows more of your LDL to be carried out of your arteries and into your liver. It is important that you meet with your primary care physician before making any decisions regarding cholesterol treatment. It’s possible that you may not be healthy enough to exercise regularly, or that your primary care physician will propose certain exercise over another. In addition, he or she may wish to prescribe medication in order to help your system deal with the cholesterol.
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