High Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Both cholesterol and triglycerides perform important functions within your body. But when you have more than you need — and the bad cholesterol or LDL count in your bloodstream rises too high — then they become counter-productive and even dangerous. Your experienced doctor at Century Medical and Dental Center in Brooklyn can help you get your cholesterol and triglycerides under control. Call today for an appointment.
A waxy substance found in your blood, cholesterol is used to build healthy cells. Unfortunately, if your body produces too much of this waxy substance, you develop fatty deposits that can block your veins and arteries. Blockages in your blood vessels slow the flow of blood and weaken muscles. If the blood can’t reach muscles and organs, including your heart and brain, they start to die. This is what happens when you have a heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol attaches to proteins, making lipoproteins. Low density lipoproteins or LDL narrow or constrict arteries. High-density lipoproteins or HDL pick up extra cholesterol to take back to your liver to be processed out of your body. Obviously, it’s better to have a higher concentration of HDL versus LDL. A lipid panel blood test measures all these numbers for you and your internal doctor at Century Medical and Dental Center.
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides
You may inherit high cholesterol, but your lifestyle and environment contribute as well. Excess fat and a sedentary lifestyle add to your risk of developing high cholesterol. Cholesterol becomes a fatty substance called triglycerides, which represent excess calories stored as fat cells to be used for energy later. Triglycerides builds up in your bloodstream, where they stick to each other and to the vessel walls. Eventually, enough of them clump together and block the blood vessel entirely.
There are no symptoms to suggest you have high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Only a blood test can reveal that you have this medical condition. High cholesterol may occur genetically, but high triglycerides often form from poor eating and exercise habits. Both high cholesterol and high triglycerides can be treated medically, but they act as warning signs to change your lifestyle and diet before you suffer a heart attack.
Causes and Risk Factors
You may be at risk for high LDL and triglycerides counts if you:
- Are overweight
- Are a cigarette smoker
- Eat a poor diet that is high in fats and processed foods
- Lead a sedentary lifestyle without regular exercise
- Have been diagnosed with diabetes
Blood lipid tests show normal levels of triglycerides at less than 150 milligrams per deciliter, while the normal range for LDL is less than 100 mg/dL. If your triglycerides reach 500 mg/dL or your LDL count surpasses 190 mg/dL, you need to visit a doctor and start on medication right away. High triglycerides may indicate a number of underlying health conditions, such as:
- Low levels of a thyroid hormone
- Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome that raises your chance of heart disease — especially when you have a combination of obesity, high blood sugar and high blood pressure
- Rare genetic disorders that cause your body to be inefficient at converting fat to energy
Other possible causes of high triglycerides include medications — such as estrogen and progesterone, steroids, beta blockers, diuretics, retinoids and some drugs used as immunosuppressants or to fight HIV. High cholesterol (LDL) and high triglycerides can lead to chest pain, heart attack and stroke, all due to the blockages in your arteries and veins.
High Cholesterol and Triglycerides Treatment
Your Century Medical and Dental Center doctor in Brooklyn helps you make lifestyle changes that enhance HDL and lower LDL and triglycerides. Exercise, healthy and balanced eating, and subsequent weight loss all enhance whatever high cholesterol and triglyceride treatment you receive. Your doctor often recommends medication tailored to your situation, such as:
- Statins are the most common form of cholesterol medication. They work to block your liver from making more cholesterol. Instead, your liver removes cholesterol from your blood.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors help limit the absorption of cholesterol in your small intestine. One form of this drug, Ezetimibe, may also be used as a statin.
- Bile-acid-binding resin binds to bile. Your liver produces bile, which is needed for digestion. As a result of taking the bile-acid-binding resin, your liver removes cholesterol from your bloodstream to make more bile.
- An injectable drug called PCSK9 helps your liver absorb more of the negative cholesterol (LDL) to prevent it from circulating in your bloodstream. These drugs work well for those with a genetic predisposition to high levels of LDL or for those who find taking statins intolerable.
- Fibrates help speed up your liver’s ability to remove triglycerides and LDL. This class of drug is often used in conjunction with statins for better results.
- Omega-3 fatty acids either in your food, through over-the-counter supplements, or by prescription help lower your triglycerides.
- Niacin works by limiting your liver’s ability to produce triglycerides and LDL but has been known to have side effects that can lead to strokes or liver damage, so it’s only used as a last resort.
The key to tailoring your treatment requires good detective work by your doctor. Factoring in your age, medical history, medication tolerance and some trial and error, your doctor works to find the best cholesterol treatment to keep you healthy and active. Contact Century Medical and Dental Center for an appointment to see an experienced doctor of medicine in Downtown Brooklyn who can help you lower your LDL and triglycerides.