If you want to lower your risk of heart attack or stroke, it’s necessary to monitor your cholesterol levels. Knowing the importance of safe levels, Dr. Darren McDow at McDow Medical Corporation in Westchester, Los Angeles, makes cholesterol checks a regular part of his patient exams. With routine monitoring, a healthy lifestyle, and, if necessary, medication, you too can reduce your risks and keep your cholesterol levels within a normal range.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance created in your body that’s necessary to build cells. Your liver naturally produces cholesterol, and you obtain it from foods that come from animals, like meat, eggs, and dairy products. But when your cholesterol levels get too high, this causes problems.
High cholesterol is associated with a narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which put you at risk for heart disease. It also increases your risk of having a:
You have two types of cholesterol. LDL, often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” leads to the deposit of fatty plaque in the arteries. When this cholesterol gets high, you’re at risk for blockages which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
You also have HDL, or “good cholesterol.” This cholesterol removes the fatty deposits left by LDL and keeps your arteries healthy and free from blockages.
When your total cholesterol levels are high, this typically means that your LDL is elevated, while your HDL levels are low. When that happens, too much LDL leaves plaque in your arteries, and the HDL cholesterol can’t clean it all up. This is when your risk increases.
Depending on your health, family history, and cholesterol levels, Dr. McDow may recommend different ways to lower your cholesterol. Lifestyle habits, such as eating processed foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, can increase your cholesterol. That’s why Dr. McDow may suggest a heart-healthy diet to lower your cholesterol. This diet includes foods like:
Dr. McDow may also recommend maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical activity. Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can increase your HDL, which in turn naturally lowers your LDL and total cholesterol levels. If you smoke, he may also discuss quitting, as that can significantly improve your heart health.
Beyond lifestyle changes, Dr. McDow may recommend medication to treat your high cholesterol. Medications called “statins” help reduce total cholesterol levels and lower your risk for having a heart attack or stroke. If you have high cholesterol, it’s time to get it under control. Schedule an appointment with Dr. McDow and find out what he recommends today.