Doctor's Notes on How to Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is naturally present in the blood and it is needed to produce certain hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help digest fat. The most common causes of high cholesterol include a high fat diet, inactivity, and obesity. Some people have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol. Other risk factors for developing high cholesterol include smoking and age (men older than 45 and women older than 55). The main ways to control cholesterol are lifestyle changes or medications.
High cholesterol does not cause symptoms by itself but high cholesterol levels in the blood (hypercholesterolemia) can cause fatty deposits in blood vessels, which cause narrowing (atherosclerosis) and chest pain (angina) and are a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
How to Lower Cholesterol Symptoms
High cholesterol does not cause symptoms by itself. Instead, it is a risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis or narrowing of arteries in the body that can lead to heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease. Blood tests are used to measure cholesterol levels as part of routine screening for risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
How to Lower Cholesterol Causes
The most common causes of high cholesterol are all related and include a high fat diet, inactivity, and obesity. Less commonly, genetic causes can decrease the ability of the body to metabolize cholesterol or cause the liver to produce too much cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a natural substance made by the body. Most of the cholesterol in our bloodstream (75%) is produced by the liver, and the remaining 25% comes from the foods we eat. We all know that elevated blood cholesterol levels are not good for your health, but the right levels of cholesterol actually play a vital role in maintaining cell membranes and synthesizing hormones. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one-third of adults have high cholesterol levels.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.