High cholesterol is the 11th most common diagnosis made during visits to family physicians, and elevated cholesterol is found in over 1/3 of Americans who undergo screening for it. So what is the worry about high cholesterol? It depends. High cholesterol isn’t a disease, but is considered a risk factor for other diseases. According to the current theory, when cholesterol becomes oxidized, it contributes to vascular inflammation and can lead to arterial blockages, which can cause heart attacks or strokes.
Relying on LDL or total cholesterol alone can be misleading, as about 50% of heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels. On the flipside, over-treatment high cholesterol can cause substantial harm in terms of medication side effects and increased all-cause mortality in those with cholesterol levels that are too low.
Looking at ratios from a standard cholesterol panel can provide an increased estimation of risk. This includes the total cholesterol to HDL ratio and the triglyceride to HDL ratio. Better yet, expanded cholesterol panels such as a VAP or NMR profile can offer a more accurate estimation of risk, based on the type and size of cholesterol particles and cholesterol carrier proteins. There are a number of other ways of assessing cardiovascular risk, which can include looking at lifestyle factors, family history, and additional laboratory markers of inflammation. It is important to treat an individual in the context of the many factors influencing their health, rather than just treating someone based on a few lab values.
Our team will work with you to assess the cause of your condition and then provide the best course of treatment. The most effective treatments, depending on the cause of your individual problem, are: