Patient Focus: Know Your Numbers to Keep Cholesterol in Check

CardioSource WorldNews | We all know that high cholesterol is harmful to the heart, yet about half of all men and a third of all women will suffer from high cholesterol at some point in their life. While the body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to work properly, too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol can be dangerous. Over time, cholesterol and fat can collect in the arteries, which can lead to atherosclerosis as well as an increased risk for heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, there are often no signs of having too much bad cholesterol until it starts to affect the arteries, which is why it is important for patients to know their cholesterol numbers. Fortunately, high cholesterol is preventable and treatable. Adopting a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and, in some cases, taking medication can help lower cholesterol and protect the heart.

The High Cholesterol condition center on CardioSmart.has information to educate patients on this condition and includes resources on treatment and lifestyle changes. Patients with high cholesterol can find tools to help them become more active, eat better and quit smoking. They can also find a list of foods to both avoid or limit and eat more of in order to improve their cholesterol. For more information, visit Cardiosmart.org/cholesterol.

Treating Very High Triglycerides: Who’s at Risk and How to Treat It

Having very high triglycerides, or severe hypertriglyceridemia, has been linked to an increase risk of having a heart attack or stroke and can also lead to pancreatitis. While research is still underway to uncover the exact relationship between triglycerides and cardiovascular disease, it is known that very high levels tend to cluster with other risk factors including being obese, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Triglycerides are measured through a lipid panel. Very high triglycerides is common in people with low thyroid levels, poorly controlled diabetes, kidney disease, or a genetic predisposition where the body produces an excess amount of triglycerides. However, other factors can raise triglyceride levels, including certain medications, alcohol, lack of exercise, or a diet high in carbohydrates or processed or sugary foods. Additionally, some people are more likely to develop this condition, including people who are overweight or obese people who develop heart disease before age 50; women, especially those who are pregnant, are taking estrogen or hormone replacement therapy, or have polycystic ovary syndrome; Mexican-American men and Indian Americans. There are not usually signs or symptoms of very high triglycerides, but people with very high triglycerides may have coronary disease at an early age.

There are multiple treatments for lowering triglycerides. Medications include omega-3 fatty acids, fibrates, statins, and niacin or vitamin B3. Healthy lifestyle changes can cut triglyceride levels by half. Being active, eating healthier, losing weight and not smoking can lower triglycerides as effectively as medication.

Read the full May issue of CardioSource WorldNews at ACC.org/CSWN

Clinical Topics: Clinical Topic Collection: Dyslipidemia, Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia, Lipid Metabolism, Nonstatins

Keywords: CardioSource WorldNews, Arteries, Atherosclerosis, Cholesterol, Hypercholesterolemia, Life Style, Lipoproteins, LDL, Myocardial Infarction, Stroke


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