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21 Nov 2005
I am a 35 year old female who has just been diagnosed with high cholesterol levels. I had this at the age of 26 as well. I am worried that my arteries may be damaged. Are there any tests I can do that will indicate if there is any damage. There is a family history of heart problems, not immediate but grandparents, uncles and aunts. Kindly inform me if I am at risk.
You must have had this cholesterol problem for the last 9 years then. You do not say how high your levels are, so it is difficult to give you a precise answer about arterial damage. The higher your cholesterol, the more damage can be done. In your case, if your levels have been raised for so long, and you have not been on any treatment, then you obviously may have done some damage. You also have a family history of heart problems. If you are overweight, diabetic, hypertensive or a smoker, then your risk is far, far higher. Females, however, are often somewhat “protected” from arteriosclerosis during their childbearing years.
Unless you have obvious symptoms, there is no way of knowing whether there is arterial damage, without having an angiogram. As this is an invasive procedure, it is not done without a very good indication.
On balance, if you are otherwise fit and well, the best thing you can do is to deal with whatever risk factors you may have – the weight, smoking etc mentioned above. If your cholesterol is raised, then you MUST bring it down. Depending on how raised it is, and its composition (ie how much is “bad”cholesterol, how much is “good” cholesterol) you may be able to lower the total by diet alone. If the levels are too high, then you will need some help in the form of medication. Just do whatever it takes to get your levels back to normal again.
Well done on seeing to this problem, and good luck.
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