Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What does your lipid level have to do with your health?"
Doctor said that I have a high lipid level after I got a blood test. Said I should take fish oil and cut back on drinking. But what does a high lipid level do to a person? Does it give you a heart attack or something?
A high lipid level is synonymous with high cholesterol level. Having a high cholesterol level can impact your cardiovascular health tremendously. High cholesterol levels do not cause any acute medical problems but over years it can lead to plaque formation and calcification of your arteries. This often occurs in the large arteries such as the aorta and causes you to get high blood pressure (poor vessel compliance). When plaque builds up in the smaller arteries such as those in the heart, it can lead to angina which is a sign of heart ischemia. Occasionally, when plaque gets too large or if it breaks loose, one can get a cardiac ischemic event (heart attack) requiring open heart surgery or stenting. When this event happens in the arteries leading up to the brain, it is called a brain attack or a stroke. Often times it is little that can be done after a brain attack. When this event occurs in the intestine, a person can get acute onset abdominal pain requiring emergency surgery. High cholesterol, like high blood sugar or high blood pressure, don't cause you any symptoms. Often they are not looked upon as serious medical condition. However, they ought to be managed aggressively because they can cause serious life threatening conditions. Once discovered to have one of the above conditions, you should cut down alcohol, stop smoking, eat a low cholesterol diet, and do regular aerobic exercise. In addition, you should also take a cholesterol lowering medicine. All of this can be managed by your primary care physician. Visit your doctor soon.
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