Heart Disease and Cholesterol

What Is the Connection Between Cholesterol and Heart Disease?

When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, plaque buildup accumulates on your artery walls. When the arteries become narrowed, blood flow to the heart is stopped or slowed down. A complete blockage in the artery causes blood flow to be completely cut off from the heart and can lead to a heart attack.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of High Cholesterol?

There are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol. The only way to detect high cholesterol is with a blood test. Ask your doctor if you should be tested for high cholesterol.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is carried through your blood while attached to proteins. These are called lipoproteins. There are different types of cholesterol based on what the lipoprotein is carrying.

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): This type of cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the kind of cholesterol that builds up the walls in your arteries and can eventually cause a heart attack. This is the kind of cholesterol that is referred to when talking about high cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): This type of cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and carries it back to your liver.

Inactivity, an unhealthy diet, and obesity can cause high cholesterol. Fortunately, these are all factors that can be treated to reduce your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Talk to your Banner health care provider about a treatment plan that works best for you to reduce your risk.

How Is High Cholesterol Treated?

First and foremost, lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial to lowering cholesterol. If you’ve already made these lifestyle changes but aren’t seeing any changes in your numbers, your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of medications.

These medications include:

  • Injectable medications
  • Statins
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
  • Bile-acid-binding resins

Medications for high cholesterol can have side effects on your body. Your doctor may recommend additional liver function tests to monitor the effects your medication has on your liver.

How Do I Prevent High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol can be lowered or prevented by implementing heart-healthy lifestyle changes. Here are some of the ways you can prevent or lower high cholesterol:

  • Quit smoking
  • Manage stress
  • Cut back on alcohol consumption
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Follow a low cholesterol diet
  • Lower salt intake and up fruit, vegetable, and whole grain intakes
  • Limit animal fat consumption
  • Moderate good fat consumption

If you’re not sure where to start, the experts at Banner Health can help you build a lifestyle change plan to fit your lifestyle. Call Banner today to book an appointment.