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I always thought that people with high cholesterol were overweight. I’ve never been overweight, but my doctor recently told me my cholesterol levels were a little high. How can this be?

Smartliving Guest asked this
June 9, 2011 at 3:11 PM



This is a really important question about cholesterol.

Most cholesterol blood tests, are actually measuring 4 different measures of cholesterol:

   •  Total Cholesterol (which is a total of all the cholesterols)
   •  LDL (the major “bad cholesterol” most responsible for heart attacks and strokes)
   •  Triglycerides (one of the “bad cholesterols”)
   •  HDL (the “good cholesterol”)

Usually when someone says they have high cholesterol, they either have a high total cholesterol, high LDL, high triglycerides, or some sort of combination of high bad cholesterols. Many healthy care professionals use the term hyperlipidemia, which means high lipids (another name for cholesterol) in the blood. Another name often used is dyslipidemia, which means bad lipids in the blood.

The goal numbers for each of the types of cholesterol are different for different people, depending on their risk factors for a heart attack or stroke. If you are told you have high, cholesterol, it is good to know specifically what your numbers are for each of the types or cholesterols, and also to find out what your “goal numbers” should be.

There are many factors that can lead to dyslipidemia and they include:

  1.    Being over weight or obese
  2.    Inactivity
  3.    Higher than ideal dietary intake of certain kinds of cholesterols and fats
  4.    Higher than ideal dietary intake of carbohydrates
  5.    Genetics

A lot of people are surprised by the large role genetics play in causing high cholesterol. There are many people who are normal weight, eat a healthy diet and even exercise, but still can have high or out of proportion cholesterol. The longer cholesterol is high in your blood stream, the more damage it can do to your blood vessels. This damage leads to an increased risk of having a heart attack or a stoke.

An important thing to know about dyslipidemia, is that it does not matter why your cholesterol is high. As long as it is high, it is increasing your chances of having a heart attack and stroke. I have met a lot of people who refuse to believe they have high cholesterol, and refuse to do anything about it. We each have a choice to make: do we choose to stick our heads in the sand and do nothing, or do we choose to live life to the fullest and make positive changes?

Stay Healthy, Dr. Jeff M.D.

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Health Coach answered
June 9, 2011 at 3:45 PM
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