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"Can high cholesterol lead to coughing fits?"
As my mom has gotten older (she's almost 80!), her weight and cholesterol have gotten a little out of control. I've noticed also that she is occasionally overtaken by a debilitating coughing fit. Could this be a side effect of her high cholesterol? If so, is it dangerous?
Elevated cholesterol is a very common problem in the adult population. However, cholesterol is not a recognized cause of coughing. Cholesterol is most damaging to the body on a microscopic level, building up inside blood vessels and contributing to the formation of plaques and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a direct and modifiable risk factor for the occurrence of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attacks and strokes), which is why it is very important to control cholesterol levels with a combination of healthy diet, exercise, and if needed, medication. There are several available medications which can be used to help control your mother's cholesterol, and for the most part these are very well tolerated with few side effects. Her primary care physician can have a discussion with her about the benefits and risks of starting these medications. Her coughing fits are not related to her high cholesterol, but that does not mean she should dismiss them as not serious. She should talk to her primary care physician about these episodes. If you notice that these episodes occur during or shortly after food intake, she may benefit from a Speech and Swallow evaluation to make sure she is not aspirating food into her trachea.
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