High Cholesterol Treatment or Testing
If you’re curious about your cholesterol scores, our providers can order lipid pants from a lab near you to measure how your cholesterol levels change over time. Our Board Certified Providers will help interpret your results and come up with a plan to help you feel better.
We offer coupons and help you find the most cost-effective RX. These medications can get expensive and we do not like that.
- Adults ages 40-59 years have significantly higher total cholesterol than those ages 20-39 or 60 and older.
- More than half of the U.S. adults (55%, or 43 million) who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.
- 95 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.3.
- High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high, which is why testing is critical.
- People with high cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death.
- Adults should have their cholesterol checked every 4 – 6 years. People who have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes should get their cholesterol checked 1-2 years.
- September is National Cholesterol Education Month.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood and cells of the body and is used in many important functions throughout the body. Cholesterol is a main component in the cell membranes of your cells, vitamin D, and hormones like testosterone and estrogen. It is also helps in nerve function.
The liver produces all the cholesterol your body needs but it is also found in many common foods like meat, egg yolk, and cheese.
What is hypercholesterolemia?
Hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, is an excess of cholesterol in your blood. This is usually caused by poor diet and lack of exercise, but can also be genetic. High cholesterol levels can cause fatty deposits to build up on the walls of your arteries called plaque – a condition called atherosclerosis. If buildup becomes severe enough it can narrow or harden your arteries which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
Are there different types of cholesterol?
Cholesterol is carried to and from your liver in lipoproteins, which are basically packages of cholesterol and fat created to transport cholesterol through the body. For simplicity’s sake, lipoproteins are often referred to as “cholesterol’ as they are what is measured in the blood tests done to diagnose and treat high cholesterol. There are three different types of lipoproteins, or “cholesterol”:
- High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) is known as good cholesterol because its function is to bring excess cholesterol from other parts of the body back to the liver to be recycled.
- Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) makes up most of the cholesterol in your body. It is known as bad cholesterol because a high level of LDL can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries.
- Very Low-Density Lipoproteins (VLDL) contain more fat, called triglycerides, than the other forms of cholesterol. High levels of VLDL can also lead to plaque buildup in your arteries.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
There are no symptoms from high cholesterol. The only way to know if you have it is with a blood test.
What causes high cholesterol?
- Diet has a major impact on your risk for high cholesterol. Foods with high levels of saturated fat such as red meat, processed meat, milk, butter, and baked good like pies and pastries can all increase cholesterol levels in your body.
- Genetics can also play a large role in your risk for high cholesterol. Genetics may make it difficult for your cells to remove LDL (bad cholesterol) from the blood as easily as other people or may cause your liver to make more cholesterol than you need.
- Obesity (a body mass index of 30 or above) puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
- Smoking damages the walls of the blood vessels and can allow LDL buildup and form plaque (atherosclerosis). It also deceases the HDL (good cholesterol) levels in your blood.
- Age increases the risks of high cholesterol. As your body ages, organ function decreases. In the case of cholesterol, your liver becomes less able to process LDL.
- Diabetes, and high blood sugar, increases the amount of VLDL in the blood and decreases HDL levels. High blood sugar can also damage the walls of your arteries and increase the risk for atherosclerosis.
Increased cholesterol levels can cause atherosclerosis, an buildup of fatty deposits called plaques in your arteries. This can reduce the blood flow through the arteries which can cause chest pain, heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol lab test ranges
Our MyCare providers will discuss your health history, family history, and lifestyle to determine your risk for high cholesterol. Lab testing is recommended for almost everyone to monitor cholesterol levels, and the MyCare provider will order lab testing if necessary.
A cholesterol panel will check your total testosterone level, your HDL and LDL levels, and your triglyceride level.
Cholesterol lab test ranges:
- Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered normal.
- High-density lipoprotein levels above 40mg/dL are acceptable. The ideal HDL level is around 60mg/dL
- Low-density lipoprotein levels below 100mg/dL are ideal. LDL levels between 100-129mg/dL are acceptable if there are no other health conditions. Levels between 130-159mg/dL are borderline high. LDL levels above 160mg/dL are considered high.
- Triglyceride levels less than 150mg/dL are considered normal. Levels between 150-199mg/dL are considered borderline high. Triglyceride levels from 200-499mg/dL are high and levels above 500mg/dL are very high.
The MyCare provider may also check your liver function with additional lab tests.
How to start high cholesterol treatment?
Our MyCare providers can make recommendations on lifestyle and diet changes to improve your cholesterol levels.
Routine lab tests are necessary for anyone that has high cholesterol regardless of whether it is being managed by lifestyle changes or by medication. The MyCare provider will recommend timing of lab tests to make sure your cholesterol levels are under control.
Some cholesterol-controlling lifestyle changes may include:
- Limit the amount of red meat you eat
- Decrease dairy intake
- Limit saturated fats to 5-6% of your daily calorie intake – and minimize trans fats
- Increase a diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Lose weight
- Exercise 150 minutes a week. Exercise increases HDL and decreases the size of LDL
- Quit smoking
- Decrease alcohol intake
Sometimes lifestyle changes alone cannot improve cholesterol levels enough. You made need a prescription medication to decrease your cholesterol. Our MyCare providers will be able to determine if a prescription is necessary and find the right medication to meet your needs.
Statins work to decrease LDL and triglycerides and slightly increase HDL.
- Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- Simvastatin (Zocor)
- Pravastatin (Pravachol)
Bile acid binding resins work to decrease LDL.
- Cholesevelam (Whelcol)
- Cholestyramine (Pravalite)
Fibrates decrease triglycerides and can increase HDL.
- Fenofibrate (Lipofen)
- Gemfibrozil (Lopid)
Niacin can decrease LDL and triglycerides and may increase HDL.
- Prescription niacin (Niaspan)
Omega-3 fatty acids decrease triglycerides and can increase HDL.
- Supplement (Lovaza)
- Icosapent ethyl (Vascepa)
Injectable medications can decrease LDL, especially for difficult to control cholesterol levels
- Alirocumab (Praluent)
- Evolocumab (Repatha)