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Boggio Family of Pharmacies

Boggios: A healthy choice for your whole life

Most people are aware that it is important to have their cholesterol checked.  We know that “high” cholesterol may be a predictor of heart disease and stroke.  Confusion arises regarding what our cholesterol readings mean and what we should do about it.

Guidelines recommend men over forty and women over fifty should have their cholesterol tested.  Other high risk individuals should also be tested.  Even if you do not fit in to one of those categories it is a good idea to have your cholesterol screened even at a young age to have a baseline reading.  A new blood test looks at something called High-sensitivity C-reative protein (hsCRP).  This is an important test for individuals who may have a strong family history of heart disease, but their cholesterol levels are good.  It can predict cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic individuals.  Research is now suggesting if this number is higher than three, individuals should start on a statin medication like Crestor.  This may prevent a first heart attack.  Prevention is very important as fifty percent of patients will suffer sudden death with an initial heart attack.

Physicians use specific guidelines in order to determine when to use medication to treat high cholesterol.  Patients are classified in high, moderate, and low risk categories depending on their likelihood of having a heart attack within the next ten years.  Obviously patients in the highest risk category are treated most aggressively to reach specific cholesterol targets.

Physicians are interested in a patient’s LDL cholesterol often called bad cholesterol. They also look at a patient’s total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio. The following is a chart of cholesterol targets.

High Risk Level

Moderate risk level

Low Risk level

LDL-C<2.0 mmo/L

LDL-C<3.5 mmol/L

LDL-C<5.0 mmol/L

TC/HDL-C<4.0mmol/L

TC/HDL<5.0 mmol/L

TC/HDL<6.0mmol/L

If you are interested in your cholesterol readings you may ask your physician for your laboratory results and your risk classification.

Cholesterol medications affect your cholesterol in different ways.  Depending on what your cholesterol readings are, certain meds will lower your bad cholesterol.  Others will raise your good cholesterol.  Sometimes patients need to be on more than one medication.  Medications called statins like Lipitor and Crestor work to decrease your body’s production of cholesterol.  Others like Ezetrol decrease the amount of cholesterol you absorb from your diet.  In general cholesterol medications are fairly well tolerated.

Diet and exercise may help your cholesterol but dietary intake only accounts for about 10% of the body’s cholesterol.  The rest is produced by the body.  This is an area where genetics plays a large role.  Some over-the-counter treatments may also help.  Niacin can be bought without a prescription and will help lower your bad cholesterol.  Unfortunately it is not always well tolerated and can cause redness and flushing.  Fish oil, specifically Omega 3’s, can help protect against heart disease and some of the negative effects of cholesterol. Of course it is always a good idea to check with a physician before taking any supplements.

The best way to check your cholesterol is with a 12 hour fasting laboratory test.  However, the pharmacy will sometimes run screening, and cholesterol clinics.  If you are interested please call to find out when we are having our next clinic.

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