Hyperlipidemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hypercholesterolemia — these are all lipid imbalances grouped under what’s commonly referred to as high cholesterol. For the 86 million Americans who qualify as having high cholesterol, managing these lipids is critical for avoiding serious cardiovascular disease.
Lipids play no small role in your hormone health, which is why endocrinologist Dr. Sean P. Nikravan specializes in lipid management. By paying a little more attention to controlling cholesterol and lipid levels, you can reduce your risk for serious, and even life-threatening, conditions like heart attack and stroke.
Lipids aren’t bad for you — just high levels or imbalances of certain lipids. In fact, lipids are fatty or waxy substances that are found in each and every cell in your body, and they’re essential for human functions, such as:
- Transporting and storing energy
- Communication between cells
- Digesting fat
- Vitamin absorption
- Hormone production
Structurally, lipids are critical in forming membranes that insulate your cells.
But, as with most everything else in your body, these lipids need to be within certain ranges. When they’re not, the imbalances can lead to health issues, which is certainly the case with high cholesterol.
Understanding high cholesterol
When we test your cholesterol levels, we order a lipid panel, which measures three important numbers:
- High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
Lipoproteins form when cholesterol joins a protein in order to move through your blood. Triglycerides are converted calories, which your body stores in your fat cells.
These lipids are all essential for function, but they work best when the numbers are balanced. For example, your body uses the cholesterol in your LDLs, and HDLs are designed to move through your blood and carry off excess LDLs. When you have high cholesterol, it can mean:
- Your HDL levels are too low
- Your LDL levels are too high
- Your triglyceride levels are too high
Each of these can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in your blood vessels. This can cause serious issues like coronary artery disease, which is the primary risk factor for heart attack.
Managing your lipids for better health
If your cholesterol numbers are worrisome, we can take steps to rebalance your cholesterol levels.
At the head of the list is making some adjustments to your diet. Steering away from fatty foods is paramount. You should replace these foods with healthier options, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lean proteins.
Exercise can also play a role in lowering your LDLs and raising your HDLs, so getting moving is a good idea.
We also can prescribe medications that keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Understandably, changing your diet and instituting an exercise regimen are big changes — and we’re here to help. We offer comprehensive weight management services that include personalized plans for nutrition and exercise. And we’re with you every step of the way until you get the upper hand on your cholesterol levels (and your health!).
For expert oversight and management of your lipids, including cholesterol, please contact our office in Newport Beach, California, to set up a consultation with Dr. Nikravan.