Cholesterol is generally associated with being “too high”. Leaving us to ask ourselves the common question, “How can I lower it?” But do we really understand what “it” is and why we need to lower “it”?
So…What is Cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that is carried throughout your body to every cell. It has many important jobs that keep you alive. Cholesterol is found in the acid that makes up the digestive tract, which breaks down food. Vitamins are known for keeping us healthy, but not many people know that Vitamin D is the only one created by our body. What is needed to synthesize Vitamin D? Good ole’ Cholesterol. Cholesterol also helps make hormones, like Testosterone and Estrogen. The saying “too much of anything isn’t good” applies as much to Cholesterol as it does anything else. Reasons for your Cholesterol being too high can depend on many things. Fortunately, there are ways to keep it in check.
Good vs. Bad. We have two different kinds of Cholesterol in our bodies; the good kind and the bad kind. Cholesterol won’t dissolve in the blood, because blood is water based and Cholesterol is fatty and oily. Cholesterol needs to be carried around the body by lipoproteins. There are two kinds of lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is the “bad” cholesterol because it creates a thick, hard deposit, called plaque. Plaque clogs the arteries and can contribute to strokes or heart attacks. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol. It acts as a carrier and takes the LDL (bad cholesterol) to the liver where it gets broken down and passed. People with healthy levels of HDL, 60 mg/dl and above, have a decreased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Over 35 million Americans are affected by high cholesterol. Many of these people do not know until a major medical problem arises. So, it is important to get checked at least every 5 years. A simple blood test can check the status of your cholesterol. This will tell you how high, or low, your LDL and HDL levels are.
High Cholesterol can often be avoided, or decreased, by everyday lifestyle changes. Some of which are your diet, amount of exercise, and weight. What is taken into our bodies’ impacts how it functions? High Cholesterol levels are caused by foods that are made of saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat is primarily found in red meats, deep fried food, and dairy products. Trans fat is found in processed food, as well as most fried foods. Watching what you eat and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve your cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol can also be inherited by genetics from previous generations. These genetic conditions include familial combined hyperlipidemia, familial hypertriglyceridemia, and dysbetalipoproteinemia. All of which are a mouthful to say, but are important to be aware of. Unlike other causes of high cholesterol, these cannot be fixed with simple daily changes.
There are medications that help lower cholesterol levels. Atorvastatin is a calcium salt that’s trade name is a well-known drug called Lipitor. Lipitor, and others like it, reduce an enzyme in the liver (HMG-CoA reductase) that is important in producing cholesterol. There are less expensive generic options that perform the same as Lipitor. A well-respected dispenser of these medications, PharmiCare, makes it easy to achieve a healthy cholesterol level. In fact, PharmiCare sells 30 tablets of this generic for only $30; regardless of whether it is 20mg or 40 mg. Of course, other pharmacies may carry the same product, but most will sell it for up to twice the price.
Keep in Mind…High cholesterol is not something that is due to age and anyone can be at risk. Get your cholesterol checked before any major medical problems occur. If you have any questions regarding high cholesterol or which medications are best for you, contact PharmiCare at (239) 690-7700. They are located at 6631 Orion Drive – Suite 112 in Fort Myers. They are a concierge retail pharmacy that provides solutions for both people and their pets.