Cholesterol is naturally produced by the liver, but also enters the body through the food you eat. Your body needs some cholesterol, but too much can cause plaque to form between layers of the artery walls that makes it harder for blood to flow properly. It’s important to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol because high cholesterol significantly increases an individual’s risk of heart disease and stroke, especially if it goes untreated. Factors that put you at risk for high cholesterol include family history, smoking, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and a diet high in fat and cholesterol.
Cholesterol levels are determined by genetics and diet, but the recommended total cholesterol level is 200 or less. You can be considered high risk if your LDL cholesterol level is above 70. While you can’t change your genetic makeup, you can fight high cholesterol counts with diet and exercise. In some cases, medication is used alongside lifestyle changes to bring levels within the desired ranges. It is important for individuals to discuss their personal and family health history, as well as other risk factors for high cholesterol, with their physician, as taking preventative action can be potentially lifesaving.
To help treat individuals in the community, Cone Health is creating the Advanced Lipoprotein Disorders and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Clinic. This clinic will focus on helping patients in a variety of ways, including:
- Genetic testing and screening – Those with a family history of high cholesterol can benefit from taking preventative steps as early as possible.
- Statin Intolerance Clinic – Statins are most commonly used to treat cholesterol, but not all patients can tolerate them. The clinic works with patients to find the right kind of medication or combination of medications to help them reach their goal.
- Clinical trials – The LeBauer-Brodie Center for Cardiovascular Research and Education is constantly working on new local, national and international clinical trials to advance the treatments and technology used in medicine.
- New medications – PCSK9 inhibitors are injectable medications that can help patients who haven’t seen results with other medications. Cone Health has a knowledgeable team of pharmacists who work with insurance companies to make these medications affordable for patients.
Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health has an exceptional team of cardiologists dedicated to keeping patients healthy and lowering their risk of developing serious conditions, such as heart disease.
Chad Hilty, MD, is a cardiologist and the director of the Cone Health Advanced Lipoprotein Disorders and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Clinic, and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Hilty is a 2005 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Rochester, and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at the Medical University of South Carolina.