High Cholesterol is a Risk Factor in Cardiovascular Disease
What Is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is important for a healthy body because it's used to build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Cholesterol really is a type of fat that is found in foods that come from animal sources, such a chicken and poultry, meats of any kind and even fish. Cholesterol is also made by your own body--how much and what type depends on your genetic make-up. Cholesterol is important for a healthy body because it's used to build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Although the experts don't always agree on what cholesterol numbers should be, the most common numbers used is to have your total cholesterol below 200 mg/dl
Good and Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol travels through the blood with a protein that is called a lipoprotein. There are two lipoproteins that are important in carrying cholesterol--LDL and HDL lipoprotein.
LDL is called "bad cholesterol" and carries cholesterol from your liver to other parts of the body. LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of the arterial blood vessels, which causes them to "clog" up. When this occurs in the blood vessels supplying blood and oxygen to the heart itself it increases you risk of heart attack. If it clogs up the vessels to the brain it can cause a stroke. It is desirable to have your LDL cholesterol below 130 mg/dl
HDL is called "good cholesterol" because it actually helps to clear the LDL cholesterol from the body by picking up cholesterol from the blood and carrying it back to the liver for disposal. Increasing your HDL cholesterol level can reduce your risk of clogged blood vessels. In women, an HDL level above 45 mg/dl (and above 35 mg/dl for men) is desirable.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in the bloodstream. High triglyceride levels may also increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Drinking excessive alcohol, eating desserts and candy with lots of sugars can raise the triglyceride levels. The goal here is to keep blood triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dl
Keeping The "Numbers" Under Control
Less total fat, increasing fish intake, lowering intake of red meats, drinking alcohol only in moderation, eating more fruits and vegetables, stop smoking and increasing exercise are all important in controlling the levels of fat in the blood. Losing weight also is very important.
Talk with your health care professional about when and how often you should be tested. It is generally accepted to test every 5 years, if all your "numbers" are normal. If not, you will need to start a treatment regimen and then test again in 2-3 months to judge the progress of your cholesterol-lowering program. Your health care professional will guide you in your testing schedule.
See the Heart Health Products on natural solutions to cholesterol problems.