What is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol itself is not a disease, but it is a risk factor for atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, high cholesterol refers to a high numbers of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL; “bad” cholesterol) particles, which pose the highest risk for cardiovascular disease complications.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

There are two types of risk factors for high cholesterol: modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Modifiable risk factors for high cholesterol include being overweight or obese, non-genetic hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, smoking, type 2 diabetes, lack of physical activity, high stress, atherogenic diet (a diet high in cholesterol, fat, and salt), systemic inflammation and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Non-modifiable risk factors for high cholesterol include family history, age, gender, infectious agents, genetic hypercholesterolemia, type I diabetes.

How is High Cholesterol Detected?

Symptoms of high cholesterol are often subtle, especially early in the disease process of atherosclerosis.  Serum profiling of lipoprotein particle size and composition is used to determine the effect of high cholesterol and is a useful predictor of risk for developing cardiovascular disease. For those with asymptomatic atherosclerosis caused by high cholesterol, blood pressure and carotid artery ultrasound (carotid intima-media thickness; CIMT) screening techniques are used to detect the disease.

What Is the Treatment of High Cholesterol?

At Cascade Integrative Medicine, we helping patients implement blood sugar-regulating diets and exercise regimens as part of our treatment for high cholesterol.