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Is High Cholesterol Dangerous?

Your cholesterol level plays an important role in your chances of getting heart disease. The higher your cholesterol, the greater your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. 

While the risk of elevated cholesterol goes up with age, everyone should be concerned about their cholesterol levels since heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States.

Forming a strong, collaborative relationship with a health care provider is the best weapon against heart disease. Premier endocrinologist and internal medicine physician Sam Morayati, MD, is dedicated to helping the Burlington, North Carolina community stay as healthy as possible. Taking care of your heart health is one of the best things you can do for your longevity and quality of life. 

What is cholesterol and why is it important? 

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance essential to your health. Your body uses cholesterol to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K, and to make digestive fluids (bile acids) and steroid hormones. You also need cholesterol in your skin to make vitamin D from sunlight exposure.

So, what’s the problem with cholesterol? Like all things when it comes to health, balance is key. Your body needs only a small amount of cholesterol and your liver makes enough for your body’s essential functions. The trouble comes in when you consume a diet high in saturated fat, which is strongly linked to elevations in cholesterol.

That’s why it’s crucial to eat a varied, nutrient-dense, and balanced diet to promote heart health and combat problems like high cholesterol.

Know your numbers

There are different types of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. It’s necessary to keep your eye on your total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides. Doing so gives you a picture of your cholesterol profile and associated risks.

Knowing your numbers is as easy as visiting us at Burlington Medical Center and taking a cholesterol blood test. Here are the recommendations for cholesterol:

HDL is a good form of cholesterol that removes excess cholesterol from your body and transports it to the liver for elimination, thereby protecting against heart disease. It’s beneficial to have higher HDL while keeping levels of other types of cholesterol lower. 

Dangers of high cholesterol

When there is too much cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream it clumps together and builds up on your artery walls. This causes your normally soft and flexible arteries to become stiff, hard and narrow, choking off blood flow to the heart or at worse, blocking blood flow altogether. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is completely blocked.

Because high cholesterol doesn’t cause any apparent symptoms, it’s best to have your cholesterol checked during routine wellness checks. The test is relatively simple. You fast for 12 hours and come in for a blood draw to check your cholesterol levels. 

Most patients find it easy to come in for cholesterol testing after an overnight fast. Once your results are in, Dr. Morayati will discuss them with you and talk about steps to keep your cholesterol within a normal range.

High cholesterol is the biggest risk factor for heart attack and stroke but you can do something about it. Know your numbers, know your risk, and make the necessary changes to keep your heart strong and healthy.

The road to improved heart health starts with a visit to discuss your cardiovascular health. Start by calling our office to schedule an appointment. To keep you connected to top-quality care, we offer in-person and telehealth appointments for new and existing patients. 

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