Ask the Expert: Cholesterol control

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Ask the Expert: Cholesterol control (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women. This is why it’s important to know your cholesterol numbers and manage them appropriately.

“I just felt invincible because I exercise almost every day,” Doralee Cox said.

Even though her father had high cholesterol, Doralee Cox thought her healthy lifestyle meant she was okay.

“The first time I got my cholesterol checked, they said you’re 343, and I fell on the floor and I said, “But I jog.” And I couldn’t believe it,” Cox said.

This is why it’s important to know your numbers no matter who you are. Dr. Brent Muhlstein, Interventional Cardiologist and Co-Director of Cardiology Research at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute says there are four numbers to focus on:

  1. Triglycerides should be below 150
  2. Total cholesterol should be less than 200, preferably less than 150
  3. LDL (bad) cholesterol should be less than 100
  4. HDL (good) cholesterol should be above 40 for men and 45 for women

A healthy lifestyle can help manage your cholesterol, but since you can’t change genetics, medications are also appropriate.

“Statins block the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver, and it just makes your body to make less cholesterol,” Dr. Muhlstein said.

About 15 percent of patients, like Cox, can’t tolerate statins. Fortunately, there are some other options. One option is a medication called Exetimibe which blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the GI tract – therefore you can reduce the cholesterol that you may be eating. There are also injections.

“Now they have me on cholesterol shots, and another pill, and it’s going down but now where it needs to be,” Cox said.

Since heart disease is often silent, don’t wait until you feel sick. Now is the time to know your numbers.

“A significant number of people, the first symptom they have of heart disease is death,” Muhlstein said.