As we enter National Cholesterol Education Month, it's the perfect time to focus on a topic that impacts millions of lives worldwide. The purpose of this month is to raise awareness of the health risks associated with high cholesterol such as stroke and heart disease. Both are leading causes of death in our community.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance carried in your blood. It is used to build cells and make vitamins and hormones, but too much cholesterol can be a problem. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your liver and your food. Some foods are high in cholesterol and high in saturated and trans fats. This, added to your liver's normal production of cholesterol, can increase levels and become unhealthy.
Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins known as lipoproteins.
There are two types of lipoprotein:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. It is often called ‘bad cholesterol’ because if there is too much, it can build up in your artery walls.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as ‘good cholesterol’ because it carries bad cholesterol away from the cells and back to your liver, where it is either broken down or passed out of the body.
Why does high cholesterol increase your risk of stroke?
Having too much cholesterol in your blood can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries. This can make the arteries narrowed and stiff, making it harder for blood to flow – this is a condition known as atherosclerosis. It increases the chance of a stroke.
How do I know if I have high cholesterol?
High cholesterol has no noticeable symptoms, so you need to have your cholesterol level checked with a blood test ordered by your doctor. This is especially important if you are over 40 and have any of the other main risk factors for the condition:
You have a history of heart disease or high cholesterol in your family
You are overweight
You have high blood pressure or diabetes
What can I do about high cholesterol?
You can lower your cholesterol with a healthy diet.
Reduce fats by limiting your intake of red meat and processed red meat products.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and non-tropical vegetable oil.
An active lifestyle can raise your good cholesterol, HDL. Exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
If your doctor thinks that you are at a high risk of developing heart disease or stroke, he or she may suggest that you take medication to help reduce your cholesterol as well. Drugs called statins can help to prevent fatty deposits from forming and reduce your risk of stroke.
Sourced By: Healthwise
Reviewed By: Capital Health Plan Physicians Group
Posted: September 1, 2023