High Cholesterol

This is a condition in which you have too much of a certain type of cholesterol circulating in your blood.

This is a condition in which  you have too much of a certain type of cholesterol circulating in your blood.

Cholesterol is a fat (also known as a lipid) that is found in the blood. Blood work to measure your cholesterol usually reports:

  • Total cholesterol is a measurement of all the cholesterol in your blood.
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol is a known as the “bad” cholesterol.
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol is used to figure out the LDL cholesterol. It is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol because too little of it may increase the risk of having a heart attack.
  • Triglycerides, which is another lipid found in the blood

When people have too much LDL cholesterol in their blood, it can increase the risk that blood vessels may narrow. This narrowing may cause problems with the blood flow to various organs and tissues in the body.

Recently, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association developed new guidelines for the management of high cholesterol. Medications commonly called “statins” remain the primary medication to treat high cholesterol. Lifestyle interventions are still strongly recommended throughout treatment. Lifestyle interventions include:

  • Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Watching what you eat
  • Quitting smoking

Your LDL cholesterol remains a key measurement that may help guide treatment, as does the calculation of one's risk for developing cardiovascular disease. However, there is no longer a LDL cholesterol target (high or low) once treatment has started. In the new guidelines, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are no longer used as a measurement for beginning medication or as a goal once treatment has started.

Though most of your cholesterol is made in your body, your cholesterol level can also be affected by your diet.

  • When you eat a diet that is high in certain types of fat, your cholesterol level can rise.
  • High cholesterol is more likely to occur if you are overweight and do not exercise. High cholesterol is also more common if you have diabetes, low thyroid levels or family members with high cholesterol.
  • Some people have an inherited condition where cholesterol or triglyceride levels can be very high, even if they have a normal weight and good lifestyle habits.
  • If medication is prescribed for you, your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you return periodically for blood tests to monitor your cholesterol levels.

Be an active participant in your healthcare by having preventive care visits with your healthcare provider.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a cholesterol-lowering drug, ask for a generic drug. If your doctor says that he prefers a brand name cholesterol-lowering drug, ask why a generic medication is not right for you.

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.

  • What is my cardiovascular risk?
  • What treatment, if any, are you recommending? What options are available?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • What tests do I need? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change my treatment plan?
  • What are my follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

High Cholesterol

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