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High Cholesterol

Summit Primary Care -  - Family Medicine

Summit Primary Care

Family Medicine located in Denver, CO, Colorado Springs, CO, Pueblo, CO & La Junta, CO

You could have high cholesterol levels in your blood without being aware there's anything wrong. Fortunately, a simple blood test at one of Summit Primary Care's offices in Denver, Colorado Springs, La Junta, and Pueblo, Colorado, can identify whether your cholesterol levels are too high. High cholesterol can lead to life-threatening emergencies like heart attack and stroke, so it’s important to check your cholesterol levels regularly. Call Summit Primary Care to find out more or book your cholesterol test online today.

High Cholesterol Q & A

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat your body needs to aid your digestion and produce vitamin D and hormones.

Although it has a bad name, cholesterol is, in fact, vital for good health. The problem is that certain types of cholesterol can cause significant health issues. That's why you might have seen references to "good" cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol. HDL delivers surplus cholesterol from your body to your liver for processing and excretion. The bad cholesterols are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL).

What causes high cholesterol?

You don't need to include cholesterol in your diet at all, as your body makes what you need. However, the food many people eat often contains large quantities of HDL. You could be at risk of having high cholesterol if you frequently eat:

  • Animal fats
  • Dairy products
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods

If you don't exercise enough, this makes the problem worse because exercise boosts LDL production (the good cholesterol). Without healthy levels of LDL in your body, HDL accumulates faster.

While being overweight is a known risk factor for having high cholesterol, sometimes people with a healthy weight also develop the condition. This may be due to genetic influences.

What problems does high cholesterol cause?

High cholesterol causes the development of plaque in your blood vessels, which leads to atherosclerosis. Plaque consists of excess cholesterol mixed with waste products from your blood. It's very sticky and attaches itself to the walls of your arteries, so there's less room for your blood to flow.

If you have atherosclerosis, it can cause serious health issues, including:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  • Stroke

Any of these could be life-threatening, so having high cholesterol is a serious issue. However, you could have high cholesterol levels and not be aware of it, as you won't experience symptoms until atherosclerosis reaches an advanced stage.

How is high cholesterol treated?

If your cholesterol is at dangerously high levels, your provider at Summit Primary Care might prescribe medications to lower them. Long-term, the safest and healthiest way to tackle high cholesterol is to make changes to your diet and lifestyle.

The Summit Primary Care team can help you with nutritional counseling to choose foods with fewer animal fats and support you with medical weight loss programs. Exercising more and quitting smoking also help lower cholesterol and improve your vascular health.

The first step is to have a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. To arrange your test, call Summit Primary Care or book an appointment online today.