AHA: Lets talk about cholesterol

Hello North Idaho DPC Family

We are about half way through reviewing the American Heart Association’s Simple Seven. The next topic is managing cholesterol. American media has done a good job terrifying people about cholesterol, and I am going to try to help demystify it to help us have a good working language of it.


First – what is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is part of our cells that allow the cell walls to be mobile. In the right amounts, it can help us deal with stress, grow new cells, and improve brain functions. In over abundance or too much of “bad cholesterol” it will start to build up on our blood vessels. Once it does this, it sets our bodies up for strokes and heart attacks. Thus where the media has gone on a scare campaign against cholesterol.

Cholesterol is broken down into three main categories: high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins and triglycerides.

High Density Lipoproteins: These are considered protective. Generally the higher the HDL the better your cholesterol profile.

(Very) Low Density Lipoproteins: LDL and VLDL are the ‘bad’ cholesterol that we actively try to lower to decrease the risk of heart disease.

Triglycerides: These are directly impacted by the foods we eat and are fats that float around in our blood. This also is considered not healthy if elevated

What impacts cholesterol?

3 things will impact your cholesterol.

1st: Diet will have an impact on your levels. This will mostly impact your triglycerides but will have some impact on bad and good cholesterol.


Example: My uncle served me his favorite meal while he was on the atkins diet: Chicken breast breaded in pork rinds and deep fried in bacon grease. Besides a delicious laxative, it was loaded with triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Many proponents of the atkins diet shrug off the negative shifts in cholesterol with the benefits of weight loss. While I agree, there are remarkable benefits to the Atkins Diet, eating healthy food while on it will go a long way.

2nd: Exercise – Exercise will have some impact on your HDL. Exercise will actually help increase your HDL. This has been most effective with resistance training.


3rd: Genetics – this is the hardest to control. People’s genetics are based on their parents. If your parents have had heart disease or strokes, especially at a young age, this significantly increases your risk.

4th: Medications: Statins are the most common medication prescribed for cholesterol. Other medications may include ezetimibe, rarely niacin, and several supplements may be effective as well.

When do we do something about cholesterol?

First off – we should always be conscientious about our diet and exercise, as this has impacts on ALL aspects of our health.

The American Heart Association has developed a calculator that predicts the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years and in your lifetime. It uses your cholesterol and your blood pressure. 

If you would like to calculate your risk, here is the calculator I use:


If your risk in the next 10 years is >7.5-12% (depending on specific guidelines), it is reasonable to discuss intervening on your cholesterol. >12% – We need to act now.

If you would like to come in and talk to us about your cholesterol and how to lower your risk for heart disease, lets talk. We can draw your labs in the clinic, we can help you manage your risk factors and keep you in top shape.


We have been hearing some people are struggling with the best way to get a hold of us. With several ways to talk to us, it is understandable to get these numbers mixed up. So with this in mind, I want to clarify how to contact us at North Idaho DPC

To get ahold of the front desk (Appointments, med refills, routine questions, new patients) – Text or call: 208-772-5204 or email [email protected]

To get ahold of Dr. Odom’s Cell phone (urgent issues) – PATIENTS ONLY

To get ahold of Dr. Silakoski’s cell phone (urgent issues) – PATIENTS ONLY

If there is anything that we can do to help improve, let me know – you can reply to this email, you can text me, you can call me. Please help us provide your healthcare to the best of our ability.


M. Ryan Odom, MD

North Idaho DPC


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