High Cholesterol is one of the mayor risks for Heart Disease. While often there may be a genetic factor, there is much a person can do to control and reduce the risk. It is important however, not to harshly reduce Cholesterol at the expense of other vital health systems. In my practice, I assess ALL the risk for heart disease and help patients lower their cholesterol without the use of Statins for the most part, observing the Hyppocratic oath of "First Do Not Harm".
Fred knew he had an increased risk of High Cholesterol because both of his parents had High Cholesterol and it’s now well known that the problem is partly genetic. After several years of essentially avoiding his doctor, he got a stern wake-up call when he finally went for a check-up and discovered his cholesterol was far too high at 270 mg/dL.
What is High Cholesterol and What are the Symptoms?
Your blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for getting heart disease. Essentially, when there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries and, with time, causes them to harden, which in turn slows downs or blocks the flow of blood to the heart.
High Cholesterol does not have any symptoms. It is a silent condition till the levels in your blood are high enough to block a vessel and cause a stroke or heart attack.
What are the Causes of High Cholesterol?
A variety of things can affect your cholesterol levels:
• Poor Diet. The saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat can make your blood cholesterol level go up. Saturated fat is the main culprit.
• Being Overweight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease and tends to increase cholesterol.
• Lack of Physical Activity. Not being active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad) cholesterol and raise high-density lipoprotein HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
• Age and Gender. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age, but after menopause, women's LDL levels tend to rise.
• Heredity partly determines how much cholesterol your body makes and, as Fred knew, High Cholesterol can run in families. But even in this case natural medicine can come to the rescue!
Other Important Treatments
Two other factors are critical to lowering Cholesterol:
• Exercise is essential in both lowering HDL levels and maintaining LDL levels. Whether your High Cholesterol is primarily from your diet or your genes, you need to exercise to maintain health levels. The side benefit will be higher energy and overall lower risk of chronic disease.
• Most aerobic exercises will work, the most common being walking, running and bicycling. The minimum amount you will need to affect lipid levels is 30 minutes a day, but I usually recommend to my patients that they slowly increase this to at least 1 hour 3 times a week and maintain the 20-30 minutes the rest of the week.
Relaxation - Did you know that stress contributes to higher cholesterol levels? Practices such as yoga or biofeedback or meditation can help keep cholesterol in check and overall reduce the risk for Heart Disease.