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Men’s Health: Tips for Managing Cholesterol

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As my parents have begun to age, one thing that my mom is always talking about is how challenging it is to manage my dad’s cholesterol. I started doing some research and learned how important it is for men to manage their cholesterol beginning at a young age. While doing my research, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Lucio Loza at Kaiser Permanente about what you need to know about cholesterol and tips for managing it.

One thing that I didn’t realize before talking with Dr. Loza is that one of the most significant dangers of high cholesterol is cardiovascular disease. Most of the time, when you have high cholesterol, you don’t have any symptoms, and you won’t know you have it unless having it checked. Dr. Loza advised me that unfortunately, most people find out that they have high cholesterol a little too late and experience a heart attack or stroke. “The American Heart Association recommends all individuals starting at the age of 20 get their cholesterol checked,” said Dr. Loza.

“The biggest risks are a heart attack, stroke or early mortality.”

We need cholesterol in our body, and it is not always a bad thing. The bad thing is when you get too much of it. Cholesterol is made in the liver, and when eating foods that are high in saturated/trans fat, it will increase your overall cholesterol. When your body has high cholesterol, it starts to dig into the lining of your arteries. As the plaque begins to build up, it makes the passageway for the blood that much more narrow. If the plaque causes a blockage/clot, then you’ll experience a lack of oxygen to your organs.

There are very simple steps that you can take to help lower your cholesterol. Dr. Loza recommended 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, and to avoid saturated/trans fats in your diet. Start paying close attention to the nutrition facts and ingredients in the foods your consuming. One thing that you’ll want to look for is if the foods have partially hydrogenated oils because that is the same thing as trans fats. Another great tip from Dr. Loza is to avoid commercially baked goods and fried foods. Although a lot of people are using coconut and palm oil now, coconut oil is actually really high in fat, and it’s better to stick to canola/vegetable oils.

It is important to start having your cholesterol checked at the age of 20. After that, you’ll want to have it checked again based on your risks and your doctor’s recommendation. They will look at different risk factors like, Do you have a family history? Do you have high blood pressure? Are you physically active? Do you smoke? If they see that your cholesterol is high, and you have some of these risks, your doctor will discuss a medical plan.

The first recommendation is diet/lifestyle change. If you do this, then you should start to see a difference in about six months. At Kaiser Permanente, they have a risk stratification tool that they use to access your age, gender, and risk factors. It will give the doctors a calculated risk number of whether or not you might have cardiovascular disease in the next ten years. If your risk is greater than 7.5% on the risk stratification tool, then they are going to recommend aggressive lifestyle modification or medication.

The doctors at Kaiser Permanente are the best in the industry and have a strong focus on preventative care. Their priority is to help keep their patients healthy and out of hospitals. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente online.

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