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High Cholesterol Can Be Deadly for Your Heart and Brain - Archived


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Katie Heckman, Manager, Community Relations
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High Cholesterol Can Be Deadly for Your Heart and Brain

Berea, Ky. (July 5, 2016)—High cholesterol is a problem for many people in the United States. It can cause a heart attack or stroke by blocking the arteries leading to the heart and brain, and also doubles the risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, with stroke not far behind at third. Yet one in every six Americans has high cholesterol – with less than half of Americans aware of it and receiving treatment to lower their levels.
Saint Joseph Berea, part of KentuckyOne Health, hopes to save lives through cholesterol screenings, as well as proactive steps to lowering cholesterol levels, including a healthy diet and regular exercise. 
“High cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so it can unfortunately go undetected,” said Derrick Williams, DO, of KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates in Berea. “Screening for this silent killer can be achieved through a simple blood test, called a lipid profile, with your primary care physician. Cholesterol levels should be measured at least once every five years in people over age 20. For those found to have high cholesterol, there are plenty of ways to manage it, often through medication and lifestyle changes.”
While cholesterol itself is a harmless, fatty substance created and used by the body, it becomes problematic when it occurs in excess and accumulates on the artery walls, making it difficult for blood to circulate properly. This accumulation is often referred to as “hardening of the arteries.” When cholesterol builds up in an artery that goes to the heart, it can cause a heart attack. Similarly, when it builds up in an artery that feeds the brain, it can cause a stroke.
Two types of cholesterol exist – high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). In treating high cholesterol, the goal is to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol,” which is the type of cholesterol that moves from the liver to the rest of the body. Having high high-density lipoprotein (HDL), on the other hand, actually decreases the risk of adverse health effects, because it carries cholesterol back to the liver to be removed from the body.
Generally, the higher the patient’s LDL, along with the number of other risk factors they have, the greater the chance of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
High blood cholesterol levels are often the result of a combination of factors, including the consumption of foods high in saturated fat, lack of regular physical activity, smoking, diabetes, obesity and hereditary factors. Cholesterol levels also tend to rise with age, particularly for women after menopause.
Monitoring cholesterol levels is a key part of staying healthy. Leading up to a cholesterol screening blood test, patients typically must fast for nine to 12 hours. Blood cholesterol results are then interpreted by a primary care physician, taking into account personal risk factors of each patient in order to determine the best strategy to lower patient risk, which may or may not include medication.
Prescription medications such as statins, bile acid sequestrants, nicotinic acid, fibric acids, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors may be prescribed. Or, therapeutic lifestyle changes alone or in conjunction with medication may be recommended. Lifestyle changes include switching to a cholesterol-lowering diet, increasing physical activity, managing weight and quitting smoking. 
“It’s certainly in a patient’s best interest to call their primary care physician today to schedule a cholesterol screening,” said Dr. Williams. “Because high cholesterol presents no signs or symptoms, it’s an appointment that may save a life.”
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations including, hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved.  The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages.

Publish date: 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016