Medical Moment: Debunking myths around cholesterol – WNDU

(WNDU) – In the U.S., 12 percent of people, 20 years 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 get your cholesterol checked.

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

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

“Our guidelines have suggested that lower and lower levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL, are associated with a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack and stroke,” said Steven Nissen, MD, at 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, carries bad cholesterol back to the liver, which then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for stroke and heart disease.

“Getting the bad cholesterol levels down to really low levels, down in the twenties and thirties 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? False! While cholesterol can be maintained through diet and weight management, high cholesterol can also be genetic! Would you experience symptoms if you had high cholesterol? False is correct! High cholesterol won’t cause any symptoms unless it becomes dire, such as a heart attack, chest pain, or sudden death.

Prior to these events, there are no symptoms, which is why it’s best to schedule a regular blood test.

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

There’s a new drug called Nexletol, and it’s used for people with the highest risk.

That’s people with genetic or familial high cholesterol or those who have heart disease and further need to lower their cholesterol.

It’s called bempedoic acid. It works to lower the cholesterol your liver makes.

Statins are different because they lower cholesterol in the blood by reducing the liver’s ability to make cholesterol. This then allows the liver to accept more cholesterol from the blood, thereby driving down cholesterol levels. They can drive down low-density lipoprotein (LDL) through the HMG receptor. This is an enzyme that processes cholesterol in the body. But Nexletol actually holds up cholesterol production in the liver as well, but through a different enzyme on a pathway known as the ACL pathway.

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

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