High cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. Internist Dr. Sheremet Gashi provides ongoing testing and state-of-the-art treatment for high cholesterol, helping patients from throughout the North Arlington, NJ, area enjoy better health and reduce serious health risks.
Cholesterol is a sticky, waxy substance necessary for several important bodily functions including metabolism (the conversion of food to usable energy) and synthesis of vitamin D. The body produces some cholesterol and receives the rest from foods. While having some cholesterol in the blood is important for maintaining good health, when the blood level of cholesterol is too high, the substance can build up and stick to the walls of the blood vessels, making it more difficult for blood to circulate. High cholesterol significantly increases the risks for heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
High cholesterol causes no symptoms; unless the condition is “caught” with routine testing, most patients don't realize they have high cholesterol until a serious event like a heart attack or stroke occurs or they develop symptoms of heart disease.
Cholesterol levels can be measured using a simple blood test. The U.S. Department of Health recommends cholesterol tests on a regular basis beginning at around age 20 for most people.
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. While neither is inherently “bad” or “good,” HDL is the type that tends to stick to blood vessel walls and cause vascular problems; LDL acts to clear away deposits of HDL. However, some amounts of each type are essential for good health and normal body function. Having routine cholesterol tests is an important way of making sure each type remains within healthy levels.
Mildly elevated levels of cholesterol can often be addressed with lifestyle changes, including nutrition counseling to establish healthy eating patterns, being more physically active, and losing excess weight. When these approaches aren't effective or if LDL levels are very high, medication may be needed to help bring cholesterol levels to within normal ranges. Routine blood tests and heart disease screening will play an important role in optimizing results of treatment and preventing serious events.