MayoClinic.com Feature Focuses on High Blood Cholesterol

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Cholesterol, which is found in every cell of the body, is used to build healthy cells, as well as some vital hormones. An individual who has high blood cholesterol may develop fatty deposits in the blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits can clog arteries and reduce blood flow. As a result, the heart may not get enough oxygen-rich blood, increasing the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke.

Cholesterol, which is found in every cell of the body, is used to build healthy cells, as well as some vital hormones. An individual who has high blood cholesterol may develop fatty deposits in the blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits can clog arteries and reduce blood flow. As a result, the heart may not get enough oxygen-rich blood, increasing the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke.

High blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is largely preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and, sometimes, medication can help lower high blood cholesterol.

A feature on MayoClinic.com highlights treatment options for high blood cholesterol. Lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and eating right are essential. Medication is another factor for controlling high blood cholesterol. Using one medication or a combination depends on an individual's risk factors, age, current health and possible side effects. Common medications include:

-- Statins. These drugs, among the most commonly prescribed for lowering cholesterol, block a substance the liver needs to make cholesterol. Cholesterol in liver cells is depleted, causing the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood. Statins may also help the body reabsorb cholesterol from accumulated deposits on artery walls, potentially reversing coronary artery disease.

-- Bile-acid-binding resins. The liver uses cholesterol to make bile acids, a substance needed for digestion. Medications in this category lower cholesterol indirectly by binding to bile acids. This prompts the liver to use excess cholesterol to make more bile acids, which reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood.

-- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors. The small intestine absorbs cholesterol from an individual's diet and releases it into the bloodstream. This type of drug helps reduce blood cholesterol by limiting the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

-- Combination cholesterol absorption inhibitor and statin. This combination drug decreases both absorption of dietary cholesterol in the small intestine and production of cholesterol in the liver.

About MayoClinic.com
Launched in 1995 and visited more than 15 million times a month, this award-winning Web site offers health information, self-improvement and disease management tools to empower people to manage their health. Produced by a team of Web professionals and medical experts, MayoClinic.com gives users access to the experience and knowledge of the more than 3,300 physicians and scientists of Mayo Clinic. MayoClinic.com offers intuitive, easy-to-use tools such as "Symptom Checker" and "First-Aid Guide" for fast answers about health conditions ranging from common to complex, as well as an A-Z library of more than 850 diseases and conditions, in-depth sections on 24 common diseases and conditions, 16 healthy living areas including food and nutrition, recipes, fitness and weight control, videos, animations and features such as "Ask a Specialist" and several blogs. Users can sign up for a free weekly e-newsletter, "Housecall," which provides the latest health information from Mayo Clinic. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/.

To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to http://www.mayoclinic.org/news. MayoClinic.com (http://www.mayoclinic.com) is available as a resource for your health stories.

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