The Dangers Of High Cholesterol And Healthy Habits That Can Lower It

Posted on: 20 June 2022

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with high cholesterol, you may be confused about what that means. Likely, you were unaware of the condition until a routine health checkup at your local medical facility or health care center discovered it because it typically has no symptoms. What is cholesterol and why should you be concerned if you have high levels of it in your body?

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by your liver and is used to make cells and protect nerves. It is also found in certain foods, including eggs, dairy, and fatty meats. Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream attached to proteins, and the combined molecules are called lipoproteins.

There are two types of cholesterol: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is often called "good cholesterol" and it grabs excess cholesterol in the blood and takes it back to the liver. LDL or "bad cholesterol" attaches to the walls of veins and arteries, causing them to become hardened and narrow.

What Do Cholesterol Numbers Mean?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), cholesterol screenings should begin between the ages of 9 and 11 and then be repeated every five years after that. Males between 45 and 65 and women between 55 and 65 should have a cholesterol screening every one to two years. People older than 65 should be screened annually.

A cholesterol screening will provide three different numbers: Total cholesterol level, as well as HDL and LDL levels. Levels are usually shown in milligrams per deciliters (mg/dl). Total cholesterol should ideally be below 200. 

High cholesterol can put you at risk for clogged arteries and heart disease. Cholesterol buildup in the veins can also slow blood flow to the brain, which can lead to a stroke.  

How Can You Control Cholesterol Numbers?

Although high cholesterol can be related to genetics, in many cases it's due to poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Here are a few tips to reduce your blood cholesterol levels and perhaps avoid related circulatory and heart problems.

  • Eat a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fats.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • No smoking.
  • Exercise regularly.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about your cholesterol levels, how often to get tested, and whether you are at risk of related problems. He or she may put you on a statin medication to control your levels.

Contact a medical facility for more information.