High cholesterol, having too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other heart problems. Though high cholesterol is a major risk factor leading to heart disease, you can control your cholesterol levels to reduce the risk.
Types of cholesterol
The following are the two types of cholesterol:
- LDL: the "bad" cholesterol that can build up in your arteries and reduce blood flow
- HDL: the “good” cholesterol that removes LDL from your bloodstream
Healthy cholesterol levels
The American Heart Association recommends the following levels of cholesterol:
- LDL: less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) for most people
- HDL: higher than 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women
High cholesterol risk factors
High cholesterol has some causes and risk factors that you can control, which include the following:
- Diet that is high in fat and cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
Some risk factors that you cannot control include the following:
How can I get help for high cholesterol?
If left untreated, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and other serious health problems.
You can take steps to prevent high cholesterol. Some recommendations include the following:
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly; even moderate physical activity can help.
Although high cholesterol often shows no symptoms, your primary care physician can detect it through a simple blood test. You may need other tests if your doctor suspects that you have related heart problems.
Care for high cholesterol at Rush
If you have high cholesterol, your primary care doctor at Rush can put together a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. The goal is to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your physician may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Lifestyle changes to improve your diet and increase your level of physical activity
- Smoking cessation programs to help you avoid tobacco
- Medications (statins) that lower cholesterol levels
Why choose Rush for high cholesterol care?
- Rush offers the full spectrum of cardiovascular services, with heart and vascular programs for patients of all ages. Rush has special programs with clinicians exclusively dedicated to treating children and women.
- Patients at Rush get the benefits of research investigators’ work on new therapies, medications and devices. Rush’s clinical studies provide immediate results for patients and also help expand scientific and medical knowledge.