The first thing the best cardiologists in Hackensack want you to understand about cholesterol is that not only is it not always bad for you, it’s one of the most important “building blocks” your body needs to stay in good health. When we eat foods derived from animal products, the fat in these foods can’t be utilized directly. After the fat has been absorbed in the intestines, it is passed along to the liver for more processing that turns it into waxy, fatlike lipoproteins that are then distributed to the rest of the body and used to produce vitamin D, many hormones, and bile acids that help you to digest other fats.
The problem arises when certain cells catch Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and precipitate the waxy cholesterol out of it, allowing it to accumulate and build up on the interior walls of your arteries. There it can cause narrowing of the arteries, which in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) normally collects the LDL and routes it back to the liver, so to determine if your cholesterol levels are healthy you need to know both LDL and HDL levels.
What do the best cardiologists in Hackensack measure when he measures your cholesterol levels?
When you have a cholesterol blood test, the results are reported in 3 categories:
- Total Cholesterol – ideally should be below 200 mg/dL.
- LDL – “bad” cholesterol, ideally should be below 100 mg/dL.
- HDL– “good” cholesterol, ideally should be above 60 mg/dL.
The recommendations above for “ideal” levels are for those who are healthy; for those with existing heart disease or high risk of it, different levels may be optimal.
If you have high cholesterol levels, what can you do about it?
First, you can try to eliminate other serious risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking. In many cases, cholesterol levels can be managed through changes in diet, exercise, and lifestyle. You can manage your cholesterol levels, for example, by limiting your intake of total fats to less than 30% of your daily calorie intake and your intake of saturated fats to less than 10% of your daily calorie intake. You should also lower your intake of sodium (salt). Regular aerobic exercise can also reduce cholesterol levels.
If these methods are not sufficient to bring your cholesterol levels down, your Hackensack cardiologist may recommend medications called statins, which can significantly lower your cholesterol levels. If you have existing heart disease and/or have had a heart attack or stroke previously, the top cardiologists in Hackensack have determined over years of practice that statins can literally save lives by reducing cholesterol and thus reducing risk of another incident.
How often should you have your cholesterol levels tested?
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults over the age of 20 should have their blood cholesterol levels tested every four to six years. If you are over the age of 50, you should probably be tested more often. And, of course, if you are currently being treated for a cardiovascular condition, you should follow the recommendations of your Hackensack heart doctors.
Getting a blood cholesterol test is pretty quick and easy, and involves only drawing a little blood. The main discomfort that patients ever report is that the test is usually given early in the mornings, because to be accurate you should have not have eaten for several hours before it is administered. If you want to find out more about the tests and diagnostic equipment we use at Cross County Cardiology, visit http://www.crosscountycardiology.com/ or give us a call at 201-299-4479.
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