Living with a chronic health condition means that you bear a responsibility that is continuous — and critical. You can’t just take a vacation from managing your diabetes or high blood pressure.
Technically, a chronic condition is one that lasts for a year or more and necessitates regular management by your doctor. It may also put the brakes on certain daily activities.
You may be one of the nearly 40% of Americans who have hyperlipidemia — otherwise known as high cholesterol, another chronic condition. It’s important to be monitored closely when you have high cholesterol, because if it goes unchecked, it puts you at risk for serious health conditions, like stroke and heart disease.
Fortunately, Dr. Shamala offers close oversight and management of hyperlipidemia, as well as a host of other conditions, and partners with you to incorporate its oversight into your overall wellness plan. Her advanced treatments are customized to every patient, so the care you receive here is anything but cookie-cutter.
Hyperlipidemia: A silent problem
The first hurdle you have to clear with regard to high cholesterol is discovering it. This can be tricky because the condition presents no obvious symptoms. If you’re Dr. Shamala’s patient, high cholesterol is usually uncovered at an annual wellness visit.
The waxy, fatty substance is made by your liver and carried throughout your body, but it’s also found in the food you eat — specifically animal products like meat, seafood, and dairy foods.
The problem is that your liver produces all the cholesterol you need, and a diet with lots of foods high in saturated fat, like the animal products we mentioned, and deep-fried and highly processed foods put you on the road to high cholesterol readings.
First, though, it’s important to understand that cholesterol is also needed by your body to help it manufacture vitamin D, certain hormones, and cell membranes. So, cholesterol in and of itself isn’t a villain, it’s when either heredity or habits cause it to increase to unhealthy levels that management is necessary.
Dr. Shamala determines your cholesterol levels through a simple blood test. It’s recommended that men 45 to 65 years of age and women ages 55 to 65 get a cholesterol screening every one or two years. After that, both men and women should be tested every year.
What constitutes high cholesterol?
You may have read or heard about “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.” Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is the bad type.
It harms you by accumulating in your artery walls and hardening them. It’s harder for your blood to make it through these narrowed arteries to get to your organs and do important work, like delivering oxygen, hormones, and nutrients to different parts of your body.
Conversely, high-density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol, is the good kind. It actually grabs unneeded cholesterol and returns it to your liver.
Dr. Shamala partners with you to manage your high cholesterol if you’re struggling with it. The good news is that there are factors you can control — like increasing your physical activity and eating better — that can have a big impact on your cholesterol levels. It’s also important to kick the habit if you smoke, and watch your alcohol consumption.
If you’re predisposed to having high cholesterol, it may be because the problem runs in your family, or you may be affected because you take medication for a certain medical condition, like diabetes, kidney disease, or lupus.
Unfortunately, simply getting older puts you at greater risk for hyperlipidemia also because as we age, our livers are less able to remove the bad LDL cholesterol from our bodies.
What does treating my high cholesterol involve?
With a problem like hyperlipidemia, you need to see Dr. Shamala regularly, so she can screen, monitor, and treat you frequently and consistently. Rather than scolding you about your condition, she considers herself your ally in combatting and controlling it.
Dr. Shamala looks at many factors as she develops your treatment plan, from how long you’ve been dealing with high cholesterol, to what your reading is and which approach you want to take to manage it. She talks to you about your family medical history and your own history and may order imaging tests in addition to blood work.
Treatments Dr. Shamala may recommend include:
- Diet modification and supplements
- Upping your daily exercise
- Prescription medications, including anti-inflammatories and pain medications
- Delving into what triggers your stress, and ways to relieve it
In addition to these treatments, she believes in educating you about the causes and modifiable factors you can control in order to get a handle on your cholesterol.
Dr. Shamala is with you every step of the way as you tackle lowering your cholesterol. Call our office at 408-290-8467 to schedule an appointment or book one by connecting with us through our website.