We're going to kick off this discussion with some eye-opening numbers. First, elevated cholesterol affects about 86 million Americans aged 20 and older, and about 25 million of them have high cholesterol. About 7% of kids ages 6-19 have high cholesterol, too.
The reason these numbers are alarming is because high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, such as heart attack and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the United States.
If you have high cholesterol, now’s the time to address this dangerous risk factor. And our team of medical professionals here at LaSante Health Center is standing by to help.
To get started, we’ve pulled together a few ways in which we can work together to bring your cholesterol numbers into healthier ranges.
Before we get into how to lower your cholesterol numbers, we want to quickly review to what we’re referring. When we measure your cholesterol, we’re really measuring three different things:
- Low-density proteins (LDLs)
- High-density proteins (HDLs)
Your LDLs are what we consider to be bad cholesterol, because they can accumulate in your bloodstream and lead to plaque buildup in your arteries.
Your HDLs are the good cholesterol, as they’re in charge of carting off the LDLs in your blood. Triglycerides are fats; it’s normal to have some, but only within reason.
When we say high cholesterol, we can be referring to a high total number of the three together — 200-239 is high risk and any total over 240 falls in the danger zone.
Or we might be referring to an imbalance. For example, your LDLs might not be very high, but you could have very low HDLs, which means you have to keep your LDLs lower than normal.
So healthy cholesterol levels are really about maintaining a balance among your LDLs, HDLs, and triglycerides.
Maintaining a better cholesterol balance
There are several keys to better balance your cholesterol numbers if they're elevated or high, starting with cutting out certain fats in your diet.
Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs, so cut down on outside sources, which mostly come from trans and saturated fats found in animal products and oils.
Diets that favor lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts encourage HDLs and discourage LDLs to create a better balance between the two. We also place great emphasis on foods (or supplements) that contain omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber.
We work with you to devise an optimal nutritional plan, and we track your results through frequent testing of your cholesterol numbers.
If your cholesterol numbers are dangerously high, we may place you on statins, which are medications that block your body’s ability to produce cholesterol. By blocking your natural production of cholesterol, we can help lower your overall numbers.
Other lifestyle recommendations for lowering cholesterol include:
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Losing weight
We realize that some of these are tall orders, and we’re here to help when we can. For example, if you smoke, we can get you started on a smoking cessation program and provide invaluable oversight along the way.
The bottom line is that you can lower your cholesterol through many changes — both small and large — that support your overall health at the same time.
To figure out which cholesterol-lowering approach is right for you, we invite you to contact our clinic in Brooklyn, New York, to set up a consultation with one of our heart health experts.
We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.