Dyslipidemia is the medical term used for high cholesterol, a condition that increase the risk for cardiovascular events, particularly heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. Fortunately, it’s a treatable condition with healthy diet and moderate exercise program, sensible lifestyle habits, and medications as part of the treatment plan.
Good and Bad Side of Cholesterol
Contrary to popular opinion, cholesterol is actually necessary for your body’s normal functioning, particularly in building healthy cells. Without it, you will likely have health issues, as ironic as it may seem.
But when your cholesterol levels are high, your risks for cardiovascular events increase. Your body will likely develop fatty deposits, known as plaque, in your blood vessels that eventually affect normal blood circulation through your arteries. Your heart and brain will not get sufficient amounts of oxygen-rich blood, thus, your increase risk for heart attack and stroke, respectively.
Unfortunately, dyslipidemia can be inherited. But don’t despair if your parents have it, too, because the more common causes of dyslipidemia are unhealthy lifestyle choices. You can decrease your risk for developing dyslipidemia or increase your chances of effectively managing it.
Don’t wait for the symptoms of dyslipidemia to manifest themselves. Actually, there are no symptoms! But you can ask your doctor about blood testing for high cholesterol levels, which is usually done once every five years.
Good News About Treatment
While you cannot control genetics, you can control most of the risk factors of high cholesterol. You and your doctor will discuss the best possible treatment plan in your case. Your unique risk factors, such as your age, current physical condition, and current medications you’re taking, will be considered.
You must adopt sensible lifestyle habits so that your high cholesterol levels can be decreased. Your doctor will strongly recommend a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and whole grains at its core; a moderate exercise program; and sensible lifestyle habits like effective stress management, avoidance of alcohol and tobacco, and sufficient sleep.
In case your cholesterol levels are still above normal despite these lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe certain medications. Again, your specific risk factors will be considered but the more common medications prescribed include:
- Statins that block cholesterol production in the liver
- Bile acid-binding resins that stimulate the liver into using excess cholesterol
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors that reduces the absorption by the small intestine of dietary cholesterol
Doctors may also use combination drugs, such as Vytorin, as an adjunct treatment. Since each drug has its share of side effects and interactions, you and your doctor have to work together to find the best combination of medications.
Whatever your treatment plan may be, you have to be an active participant in it. You don’t want dyslipidemia to be the end of your life!