Cholesterol is a type of body fat or lipid that travels through our blood attached to a protein. Abnormal levels of lipids or fats in your blood contribute to a build-up of plaque in the walls of your arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. LDL or low-density lipoproteins are commonly known as the bad form of cholesterol. LDL is mostly fat and can clog your arteries. HDL or high-density lipoproteins are classified as the bodys good cholesterol as it contains more protein than fat. HDL clears LDL from your blood and protects you from a heart attack or stroke. Triglycerides are another type of fat that is not as wellknownby the average person, but can negatively affect your health if left unmonitored. A combination of high triglycerides and high LDL levels put you at risk for a heart attack.Monitoring LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels is called lipid management or therapy. Abnormal levels of your total cholesterol are called a lipid disorder. The goal of lipid management is to lower the dangerous levels of lipids in your blood to prevent the development or progression of heart disease. Your total cholesterol number is a combination of your LDL and HDL levels. To understand whether you are healthy or in the danger zone, consider these levels as your guide:
- Excellent is less than 200.
- Borderline is 200 to 239.
- High is 240 or above.
A 35% decrease in your cholesterol may reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 25%. Before beginning lipid therapy, your physician will establish a baseline lipid level and assess your risk of heart disease. Lowering your LDL cholesterol levels is the primary target of lipid therapy.While your physician may prescribe medication to treat your cholesterol, lifestyle change is the primary treatment option. Diet and exercise habits are central to lowering your cholesterol. Smokers must quit immediately if diagnosed with a lipid disorder.If your lipid levels do not improve after three months of lifestyle changes, your physician may prescribe medication. Some of the medications used include:
- Statins to lower levels of LDL and triglycerides by blocking the liver from manufacturing cholesterol
- Bile acid sequestrants to block re-absorption so that LDL levels decrease
- Fibrates to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
- Niacin, or vitamin B5, to reduce the breakdown of triglycerides in the liver, in turn preventing fat storage and decreasing LDL.