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Does a Family History of High Cholesterol Mean it’s Inevitable?

Does a Family History of High Cholesterol Mean it’s Inevitable?

This morning at breakfast you watched one of your relatives take cholesterol-lowering medication, and you can’t help but wonder if you’ll be the next one diagnosed.

First, know that your fear is valid. High cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, and it tends to run in families. That said, you don’t have to take it lying down. You can work with a cardiologist to monitor your levels and make changes to reduce your risk.

Why cholesterol is bad news

Sure, you’ve heard that high cholesterol is bad news, but you may not understand how it affects your body. Cholesterol is waxy, much like fat, and as it circulates in your blood it can stick to your artery walls.

Over time cholesterol hardens and narrows blood vessels, making it difficult for blood to flow freely. The hard bits can break off and block the flow of blood to an area completely, and that’s when disaster strikes in the form of heart attack or stroke.

How your body handles cholesterol

You’ve heard the saying oil and water don’t mix. This is  true when it comes cholesterol and your blood. Your body puts cholesterol in packages called lipoproteins that allow cholesterol to ride around in your bloodstream.

Not all forms of cholesterol are bad. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps the body get rid of extra cholesterol. It transports it from the blood to your liver for elimination, so you want higher levels of this do-gooder.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad guy. It does the opposite of HDL by transporting excess cholesterol to your organs and tissues where it accumulates. Keeping LDL below a certain level reduces the risk of heart disease.

Here are current cholesterol recommendations to aim for:

It’s crucial that you work with a cardiologist to keep your levels in check.

Cholesterol and your genes

Your genes control how much cholesterol your body makes and how efficiently you get rid of it. That’s why a family history of high cholesterol increases your risk of developing it. Some people inherit a defective gene that prevents the body from efficiently removing LDL cholesterol. As a result, these individuals have high levels of bad cholesterol circulating in their blood.

If you’re found to have a defect in the way your body handles cholesterol, come in to see Dr. Suri here at West Coast Medicine & Cardiology. He offers effective strategies for managing cholesterol.

Keep in mind that the majority of people have cholesterol genes that work normally, so despite having a family history of high cholesterol, you can do something about it.

Taking control

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, each year one in four adults dies from heart disease. But you don’t have to be another statistic. Heart disease is a modifiable condition, meaning you can make changes to keep your heart healthy.

Start by requesting an appointment with Dr. Suri, and he’ll evaluate your cholesterol levels. Your heart health is in your hands.

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