High cholesterol and metabolic syndrome are dangerous conditions. Sometimes, you can make all the necessary lifestyle changes and still have high cholesterol and therefore require treatment. The guidelines for treating high cholesterol are continually changing, A good prevention-minded, NYC heart doctor & cardiologist Dr. Ghalchi is usually one step ahead of the guidelines — in terms of identifying, treating and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of several other related conditions that, when they happen at the same time, greatly increases your risk for:
The conditions that create that perfect storm of high-risk factors of Metabolic syndrome include:
- High blood sugar
- Elevated blood pressure
- Excessive fat accumulation around your belly
- High triglyceride levels
- High cholesterol
While any one of these conditions places your health in jeopardy, the metabolic syndrome occurs when several of these high risk factors occur concurrently.
Symptoms Vary Among People
Typically, you won’t have any definitive symptoms when you develop metabolic syndrome. Instead, you’ll experience the symptoms of one specific condition that’s part of the syndrome. Most notably, fat around your waist is the biggest indicator that you should see a doctor to get tested for metabolic syndrome.
Other symptoms that could indicate a propensity for metabolic syndrome can include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Fatigue for no apparent reason
- Blurry vision
- High blood pressure
The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly
The conditions that fall under the umbrella of metabolic syndrome may differ, but the causes that put you at risk for the disease are frighteningly similar. And for the most part, they relate to lifestyle choices. According to the best cardiovascular doctors belly fat is the main visible indicator that you need to make some lifestyle changes, but high cholesterol is one of the main culprits.
Cholesterol is that fatty substance that can clog your arteries when you get too much of it. Your body relies on cholesterol for healthy cell reproduction, but high levels put you at risk for a heart attack as well as metabolic syndrome.
You’ve probably heard many stories about good and bad cholesterol and how you always need more of one and less of another. If you eat a balanced nutritious diet and exercise daily, you shouldn’t have to worry about your exact cholesterol numbers. At the same time, remember that LDL is the bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries and HDL is the good kind that actually protects your heart.
So Who Is Really at Risk?
Your weight, nutritional practices, and level of physical activity are the most telling factors. The main cardiac risk factors include:
- Diet: Saturated fat is the biggest source of bad cholesterol in the country. Everything from processed foods to baked goods, crackers and animal products contain high levels of bad cholesterol. A regular diet that includes dairy products and red meat also contributes to high cholesterol levels. Keep in mind, however, that not all fat is bad.
- Smoking: The smoke from cigarettes damages the walls of your arteries, leaving pockets and crevices where fatty deposits can linger and accumulate. While aiding in the increase of LDL cholesterol in your body, cigarette smoke also reduces levels of HDL cholesterol, which is a double whammy.
- Obesity: Excess weight usually is measured by your body fat index, also called your BMI, which you can have tested at your doctor’s or cardiologists office in NYC, in most fitness centers or at home. A BMI reading of 30 or higher means that you are at a greater risk of having unhealthy or bad cholesterol.
- Waist size: Apple-shaped people are in more danger of failing this marker than those with more of a pear-shaped body. For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more is a red flag for high cholesterol. For women, the number is closer to 35 inches.
- Exercise: Or lack thereof, is another harbinger of bad cholesterol numbers. Doing at least 30 minutes of cardio-boosting exercise every day reduces the bad cholesterol while increasing the good.
Treatment Begins with Changes at Home
Obviously, the most effective plan to treat high cholesterol is through lifestyle changes. Armed with the right information, you can make those changes before any real damage occurs. The best place to start is by monitoring your diet. To achieve your ideal weight, you should aim for a body mass index between 19 and 25.
A regular exercise program, no tobacco and limited alcohol consumption combined with a heart healthy diet helps you avoid the consequences of high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. Create meal plans daily that consist of:
- Whole grains in bread, rice and cereals
- Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and cabbage
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Fresh fruit
- Lean protein in meat, poultry, fish and eggs, soy, legumes and nuts
One of the most important changes you need to make to bring down your cholesterol numbers is to reduce saturated fat from your diet. Instead, choose foods and oils that contain high levels of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as:
- Trout and salmon
- Seed butters and nuts
- Walnuts and almonds
- Olive, corn, canola or soybean oils
When Changes Are Not Sufficient
Maintain the bad habits, and you could end up with the same conditions that untreated metabolic syndrome can lead to:
Sometimes, you can make all the necessary lifestyle changes and still have high cholesterol readings. In this case, you may require further treatment. The guidelines for treating high cholesterol are continually changing, but a good prevention-minded doctor or cardiologist in New York City is usually one step ahead of the guidelines — in terms of identifying, treating and reducing risk of long-term complications from cardiovascular disease. Some of the medications your cardiologist may use include:
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- Bile acid-binding resins
- Injectable medications
- Insulin sensitizing agents
Injectables are the newest class of drugs. They induce your liver to absorb more of the LDL cholesterol in your body. These drugs are particularly effective if your high cholesterol is due to a genetic condition or if you cannot tolerate the other, more common treatments.
Checking for Confirmation
First of all, remember that you won’t have any specific symptoms to alert you to the fact that your bad cholesterol is creeping up or your good cholesterol is too low. This can only be determined by a blood test specifically designed to measure your lipids. Additionally, forward-thinking cardiologists and cardiovascular doctors often do advanced lipid testing that goes even further by analyzing cholesterol sub-particles and sub-types not routinely tested.
Two of the most common tests include:
- In-depth lab work, including expanded lipid analysis (NMR lipoprotein)
- Carotid intima media thickness test, which is an ultrasound that measures the thickness of two inner layers in your carotid artery
High cholesterol and metabolic syndrome are dangerous conditions. Visit Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates to get the tests your cardiovascular doctor in NYC need to make an accurate diagnosis. Make an appointment today.
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Heart Doctor in NYC)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066