Medical Moment: Busting Cholesterol Myths

(WNDU) – In the United States, 12% of people age 20 or older have high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. About 38% of American adults have high cholesterol. High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to have your cholesterol levels checked.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a person’s first cholesterol screening should take place between the ages of 9 and 11, and then be repeated every five years thereafter.

But what’s really true when it comes to your cholesterol?

“Our guidelines suggest that increasingly lower levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL, are associated with a reduced risk of death, heart attack and stroke,” Steven Nissen, MD, told the Cleveland Clinic.

But is it true that all cholesterol is bad?

Your body needs cholesterol to perform essential functions such as making hormones and building cells. HDL, or good cholesterol, brings bad cholesterol back to the liver, which then removes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.

“Lowering bad cholesterol to very low levels in your 20s and 30s can actually remove plaque from the coronary arteries,” Dr. Nissen continued.

Here’s another one: your weight is healthy, so you won’t develop high cholesterol, right? Fake! Although cholesterol can be maintained through diet and weight management, high cholesterol can also be genetic! Would you have symptoms if you had high cholesterol? False it’s true! High cholesterol won’t cause any symptoms unless it becomes serious, such as heart attack, chest pain, or sudden death.

Before these events, there are no symptoms, which is why it is better to schedule a regular blood test.

High cholesterol is diagnosed by a blood test called a lipoprotein profile or lipid profile. Lipoprotein profile or lipid panel provides information on total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol level, high density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol level and triglycerides. Talk to your healthcare team about how you can manage your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk.

There is a new drug called Nexletol, and it is used for people most at risk.

These are people with genetic or familial high cholesterol levels or those who suffer from heart disease and additionally need to lower their cholesterol levels.

This is called bempedoic acid. It works to lower the cholesterol produced by your liver.

Statins are different because they lower blood cholesterol by reducing the liver’s ability to produce cholesterol. This then allows the liver to accept more cholesterol in the blood, thus leading to lower cholesterol levels. They can reduce low density lipoproteins (LDL) via the HMG receptor. This is an enzyme that processes cholesterol in the body. But Nexletol also restrains the production of cholesterol in the liver, but through a different enzyme on a pathway known as the ACL pathway.

Nexletol is also a good place to start before you start doing LDL apheresis, when doctors filter your blood to remove LDL cholesterol.

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