Cholesterol Testing

Ibrahim Helmy, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.P.

Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist located in Los Angeles, CA & Torrance, CA

Though high cholesterol doesn’t cause any symptoms, it’s a significant risk factor for developing heart disease. At his practice offices in Los Angeles and Torrance, California, board-certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist Ibrahim Helmy, MD, FACC, FACP, helps men and women to monitor and manage high cholesterol through medication and lifestyle changes. To schedule an appointment, call or use the online booking tool today.

Cholesterol Testing Q & A

How does cholesterol affect heart health?

Cholesterol isn’t all bad. Your liver produces some cholesterol, a waxy substance that helps your body build cells, produce certain hormones, and regulate your metabolism.

Cholesterol also enters the body through certain foods. Cholesterol is only found in animal proteins, like meat and high-fat dairy, not plants.

When your diet contains high levels of cholesterol, along with saturated fat (found in the same animal products) and trans fats (found in processed snack foods like cookies and crackers), cholesterol can build up in your blood. This can cause fatty deposits, called plaque, to build up in your arteries, narrowing them and obstructing blood flow. Eventually, this can lead to complications such as heart attack and stroke.

There are actually two kinds of cholesterol, known colloquially as “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the “bad” kind because it builds up in your arteries. High-density cholesterol (HDL) is “good” cholesterol because it removes LDL from your body.

High cholesterol doesn’t directly cause symptoms, but it’s an important indicator of your heart health and risks, and the only way to know if you have high cholesterol is by getting a blood test.

What causes high cholesterol?

High cholesterol is often genetic to some extent. Though you can’t control that, most of the contributing factors are related to your lifestyle. You’re more likely to develop high cholesterol if you:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Eat lots of red meat, high-fat dairy, and processed foods
  • Eat less than the daily recommended intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Don’t exercise

There’s a correlation between high cholesterol and high stress. It’s not clear if stress has a direct effect on cholesterol, but many people engage in behaviors that raise their cholesterol when they’re stressed, like unhealthy eating and smoking.

Your risk of high cholesterol increases after age forty-five for men and after age fifty-five for women. Also, a woman’s risk of heart disease increases after menopause.

How is high cholesterol treated?

Good habits are the first line of defense against high cholesterol. Dr. Helmy helps you make changes that lower your cholesterol, including a diet that centers on vegetables, fruits, and legumes, and a lifestyle that integrates regular exercise, weight loss, no smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption.

Though good habits are important, they’re not always enough to keep your cholesterol in a healthy range. Dr. Helmy may prescribe a statin, which lowers your LDL cholesterol. When you take medication for your cholesterol, you still need to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.

For help managing your cholesterol and protecting your heart health, call Dr. Helmy at his Los Angeles or Torrance offices or book an appointment online.