WHO IT AFFECTS
High cholesterol can affect people of every age, sex, and race. There are some risk factors that increase the chances of getting high cholesterol that you cannot control like age and family history, but there are some you can control like obesity, smoking, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity.
WHAT IS IT?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance transported in the blood. Some cholesterol is produced in the liver, and some also comes from the foods we eat. The body needs a small amount of cholesterol, but too much can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. There are different types of cholesterol. LDL, or “bad” cholesterol can build up and form thick deposits on the walls of your arteries, making it difficult for the blood to flow. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove the LDL cholesterol from your blood.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Since high cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke, it is important to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Usually there are no symptoms with high cholesterol. It is recommended that all adults over age 20 have their cholesterol checked by their doctor then re-checked every five years.
A fasting blood test, sometimes called a lipid panel or lipid profile, measures cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. This test measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, another fatty substance in the body.
Some ways to lower cholesterol:
Eat a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Don’t smoke. If you chose to drink, limit alcohol. Increase physical activity and lose weight if necessary.
If diet changes and exercise aren’t enough to control your cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug. Be sure to take medications as prescribed. (To search for a generic equivalent of your medication, go to http://www.bcbst.com/drugsearch/start.do to use the Drug Calculator tool)
(WebMD.com, 2011, MayoClinic.com, 2011)