Coronary Artery Disease Specialist

Elite Veins NY

Bradley Radwaner, MD, FACC

Vein Specialist located in New York, NY

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, yet many people have high cholesterol without knowing it. At New York Cardiovascular Prevention & Vein Center, PLLC, Dr. Bradley Radwaner offers cholesterol screening as well as long-term options for managing cholesterol to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke and enjoy better overall health. New York Cardiovascular Prevention & Vein Center, PLLC, offers the most advanced cholesterol tests in the U.S. through the Boston Heart Lab and the Cleveland Clinic Heart Lab, which will pick up people at significant risk for heart attack or stroke that is often missed by standard cholesterol tests.

High Cholesterol Q & A

What is high cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made of fat and proteins that plays a vital role in many processes in your body. You derive some cholesterol from fatty and oily foods we eat, while other cholesterol is manufactured by your liver.

The two main “types” of cholesterol are known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol because excess amounts of this type of cholesterol can build up inside your blood vessels, forming sticky plaques that can block normal blood flow. High cholesterol refers to excess levels of LDL in the bloodstream. HDL is sometimes called “good” cholesterol because it can help clear away deposits of LDL. However, despite their nicknames, both LDL and HDL are necessary for normal, healthy bodily function. The key is to have the right amounts of each. If your LDL and HDL levels are high, you may be diagnosed with high cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia.

What causes high cholesterol?

Most people with high cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia, develop the condition from eating a diet high in unhealthy fats and sugars. Other risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Genetic predisposition to high cholesterol (a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia)

In women, levels of LDL also tend to increase during menopause, and this places women at increased risk of heart disease.

What health problems are associated with high cholesterol?

Because cholesterol deposits in your blood vessels make it difficult for organs and other tissues to get the the supplies of oxygen-rich blood they need to work properly, having high cholesterol means you can be at risk for many serious health issues, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease

How is high cholesterol treated?

Treatment for high cholesterol usually involves both medical intervention and lifestyle changes. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Eating a diet high in fiber and low in unhealthy fats and sugars
  • Losing excess weight
  • Being more physically active
  • Quitting smoking (to further reduce your risk of heart disease and to decrease the risk of blood vessel damage that can make it easier for cholesterol plaques to build up)
  • Medication to help keep your cholesterol levels under control

If you have high cholesterol, you should be screened for heart disease and stroke, and you may also need to be screened for peripheral vascular disease to check for plaque buildup and blockages in your arm and leg vessels. You’ll also need to have regular blood tests to make sure your treatment plan is effectively keeping your cholesterol levels under control and to make sure that you’re taking the correct medication dosage for your needs.