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The experienced and well-trained bariatric surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital can advise patients about weight control and about how to handle the effects of excessive body weight, including high blood cholesterol. Initially, lifestyle modifications are suggested to help patients lose weight. Bariatric surgery is recommended for severely obese individuals who are unable to lose weight through conservative methods. Our physicians will develop a treatment plan based on each patient's individual needs.
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the cells and bloodstream. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in the form of lipoproteins. The body is capable of making the cholesterol that it requires. It is essential for the body's cells to maintain their structure to produce hormones and vitamin D. Some foods contain saturated and trans fats that increase the levels cholesterol in the blood. Excessive consumption of these foods can lead to high blood cholesterol and heart diseases, which can be fatal.
Cholesterol consists of two kinds of lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is considered bad cholesterol and should be controlled. HDL is helpful to your body, as it gets rid of cholesterol from the blood. When LDL levels are high, a patient is considered to have high cholesterol. High blood cholesterol is also called hypercholesterolemia or hyperlipidemia. This condition leads to the swelling of the artery walls with fatty tissue and other debris. It usually presents no signs or symptoms. As a result, most people are unaware of their high cholesterol level. A high cholesterol level eventually leads to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Obese people are more likely to develop high blood cholesterol. In addition to the cholesterol that gets stored in the body due to unhealthy eating habits, the body also produces more cholesterol for each pound of weight. Although metabolic behavior differs from person to person, consuming fatty foods and not exercising can greatly increase a person's chances of gaining weight and developing high cholesterol and related heart diseases.
Weight loss is the most effective treatment option for obese patients with high cholesterol levels. Bariatric surgery is believed to be the most effective weight loss method for reducing cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that weight loss surgery helps severely obese people control their risk of heart disease by greatly increasing their HDL cholesterol levels. Bariatric surgery also increases the defensive actions of HDL cholesterol. Weight loss surgery can help obese individuals control their appetite and adopt a healthy diet. Bariatric surgeries involve modification of the anatomy of the stomach or intestine, which in turn affects the body's hormonal signals, resulting in reduced appetite or a feeling of satiety with the consumption of a small amount of food. Bariatric surgery results in significant loss of weight that is sustainable. Studies show that bariatric surgery solves weight-related disorders, such as high cholesterol, in 80% of obese patients.
Bariatric surgery and metabolic surgeries are now performed laparoscopically. Laparoscopic bariatric surgery is a mildly invasive surgical procedure that involves small incisions being made in the abdominal wall. Through these incisions, a camera and tiny surgical tools are inserted into the abdomen. There are several benefits of laparoscopic bariatric surgery, including a noticeable reduction in surgery-related discomfort, a shorter hospital stay, and a speedy return to normal activities. The principles of a laparoscopic weight loss surgery and open bariatric surgery are the same and can produce similar results. Not all patients are eligible for laparoscopic bariatric surgery.
Hypercholesterolemia is classified into six different types.
Often, high cholesterol levels do not cause any signs or symptoms. The condition is most often discovered through a routine blood test. When a peron's blood cholesterol levels are very high, cardiovascular symptoms may develop. People over the age of 20 should undergo routine blood tests every five years to check their cholesterol levels, even if they do not present any risk factors.
High blood cholesterol is diagnosed through a blood test known as a lipoprotein panel. Patients taking a lipoprotein panel will be advised to avoid food, beverages, and certain medications for 9-12 hours before the test. The lipoprotein panel measures the following:
In conditions where a lipoprotein panel is not possible, a test to determine the total and HDL cholesterol is done. This test does not require fasting. If a patient's total cholesterol is above 200 mg/dL and their HDL cholesterol level is below 40 mg/dL, a doctor will advise a lipoprotein panel.
Certain health conditions like age, family history and lifestyle directly effect a person's risk of developing high cholesterol. Risk factors for developing high blood cholesterol include:
In some patients, high cholesterol is inherited. This condition, called familial hypercholesterolemia, is passed through the genes and gives rise to very high LDL cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is often associated with other conditions, such as diabetes. Most often, high cholesterol develops due to the intake of foods rich in saturated fats and a sedentary lifestyle. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids raise LDL cholesterol levels and reduce HDL cholesterol levels. Lack of regular exercise leads to weight gain. For this reason, high cholesterol is common among overweight and obese people.
Fibers: Soluble fibers abundant in apples, beans, barley, oat bran, and flax seeds are helpful in lowering triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. Fiber is also filling and can help promote weight loss. It is recommended for men to consume 30-38g of fiber a day. Women should consume 21-25 g of fiber a day.
Beta-glucan: This soluble type of fiber is found in oat bran and can decrease LDL cholesterol levels.
Soy Protein: Soy protein-rich foods, such as tofu, can help control blood cholesterol. It is recommended that patients consume at least 20 g of soy protein each day to reduce their total cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and effective in decreasing triglyceride levels in the blood. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps in preventing heart diseases.
Vitamin C: Studies have suggested that a diet rich in vitamin C can help reduce cholesterol levels.
Beta-sitosterol: This plant sterol can hinder the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. It also decreases the level of LDL cholesterol in the body.
Policosanol: This mixture of waxy alcohols is derived from yams and sugarcane and can help reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels.
Herbs can help treat several conditions and strengthen the body, but they can also interact with other supplements and medications. You should always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.
Hawthorn: Hawthorn has antioxidant properties and is useful in reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Garlic: Studies have shown that garlic can slightly lower cholesterol levels, prevent blood clots, and destroy plaque build-up.
Olive Leaf Extract: This herb is known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.
Red Yeast or Red Yeast Rice: This herb can lower cholesterol and acts similarly to statin drugs.
Psyllium: This type of fiber lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Guggul: In ancient Ayurvedic texts, Guggul is known to treat high cholesterol.
High amounts of LDL cholesterol enhances the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol levels can be managed effectively, or even prevented, by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and managing long-term health issues. Healthy lifestyle habits include:
Apart from these heart-healthy lifestyle modifications, cholesterol levels should be checked every four to six years if you do not have heart disease. If you are diabetic, you must have your blood sugar monitored regularly. Lifestyle changes used to control blood sugar also help in reducing high LDL cholesterol levels. If you have been prescribed medication to treat heart disease or diabetes, follow the instructions properly and do not discontinue your medications unless directed to do so by your doctor.
Are you concerned about high cholesterol? The specially trained surgeons at Marina Weight Loss can answer questions, provide information, and recommend treatment to help curb high cholesterol.
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Mona Misra, M.D., FRCSC, FACS, FASMBSSee Profile »
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