Cholesterol is a type of fat that is naturally made in our bodies and can be found in various foods. The problem with cholesterol arises when we have too much of it in our blood vessels, causing a plaque to form. This plaque can impede blood flow to the heart leading to a heart attack or stroke. When a person has high cholesterol, whether its elevated LDL, elevated triglycerides, or low HDL, they are often completely unaware of it. High cholesterol often presents without any symptoms, and can be left unnoticed for many years. Fortunately, a simple blood test can determine what your cholesterol level is.
If your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, there are a few things you can do to manage this condition. Lifestyle modifications like increasing exercise to at least 30 minutes/day and eating a heart-healthy diet are great ways to get your cholesterol back at goal (total cholesterol <200). If this does not work, however, there are medications you can take to lower your cholesterol. The most popular class of cholesterol medications are referred to as “statins” (i.e. pravastatin, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, etc.). These medications have proven to be effective in managing cholesterol levels and are used by many patients. Other common cholesterol-lowering drugs include bile acid sequestrants, niacin, fibrates, and omega-3-fatty acids. Although these medication classes work in slightly different ways, they all lower blood cholesterol to some degree.
The problem with these medications is that many people do not “feel” like they are making a difference in their health. This can cause patients to stop taking their cholesterol medications as they are prescribed, or stop taking them all together. It is important for all patients to be educated about how important cholesterol medications are to their health. Even though you may not physically feel any different from taking cholesterol medicine, it could very well be saving your life by preventing plaques from building up in your vessels and causing a heart attack. It is so important to take these medications as directed by your physician, especially for patients with other chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. So take the pledge to take your cholesterol medicine today at http://www.ucwv.edu/pharmacy!
For more information about cholesterol medications visit http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/FreePublications/UCM179918.pdf