If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to your cholesterol levels. But with high cholesterol being a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, it’s something everyone should think about. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that could help keep your cholesterol levels in check.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what cholesterol is, what the different types of cholesterol mean and what you can do to help cholesterol levels stay within a healthy range.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in all cells of the body. It is necessary for the body to function properly, but too much cholesterol can lead to serious health problems
There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is the “bad” cholesterol that can build up on the walls of your arteries and cause blockages.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
There are a variety of things that can cause high cholesterol, including eating too much unhealthy food, not getting enough exercise, smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Genetics may also play a role in high cholesterol levels. If you have high cholesterol, it’s important to make lifestyle changes and see a doctor to find out what treatments are available to help lower your cholesterol levels.
High Cholesterol Symptoms
There are generally no signs of high cholesterol. This is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly. So, what are health issues that occur from high cholesterol? If a person has very high cholesterol and lets it go unchecked, it can put them at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of these conditions include:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Problems with vision or speech
Getting Your Cholesterol Levels Checked & Understanding Them
If you are looking to get your cholesterol levels checked, there are a few ways to do so. You can go to your doctor and have a blood test, or you can use a home cholesterol test kit. Your cholesterol levels can give you an idea of your risk for heart disease.
You want to have a lower LDL level and a higher HDL level. An optimal LDL level is around 100 mg/dL. A desirable HDL level is greater than or equal to 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women.
Your total cholesterol level is the sum of your LDL and HDL levels. A desirable total cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL.
If you have a family history of heart disease, you may want to get your cholesterol levels checked more often. You might also need to get your cholesterol levels checked more often if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or if you are a smoker.
There aren’t any high cholesterol symptoms, so you may not know if your cholesterol levels are too high. That’s why it’s important to get your cholesterol checked regularly.
How to Keep Your Cholesterol Levels in Check
There are a number of things you can do to keep your cholesterol levels in check, including:
Eating a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Foods to avoid with high cholesterol include red meat, full-fat dairy products and processed foods.
Getting regular exercise: Exercise can help to improve your cholesterol levels by increasing your HDL cholesterol levels and helping you to lose weight.
Quitting smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for high cholesterol. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health.
See your doctor: If you have high cholesterol, it’s important to see your doctor and find out what treatment options are available to you. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
Treatment Options for High Cholesterol
There are many different ways to treat high cholesterol. Some people may be able to lower their cholesterol by making lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. Others may need to take medication.
Your doctor can help you create a treatment plan that’s right for you. If you have high cholesterol, you may need to:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Take cholesterol-lowering medication
- Have your cholesterol checked regularly
If you have high cholesterol, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one-third of American adults have high cholesterol. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other serious health conditions. But there’s good news: high cholesterol can be treated.
Know Your Numbers to Treat & Prevent Cholesterol
High cholesterol can be a serious health problem. It’s important to know your cholesterol levels and what you can do to treat and prevent high cholesterol. We hope this information on what causes high cholesterol, the different cholesterol levels, and treatment options for high cholesterol helps you take steps to treat and prevent high cholesterol. Find a doctor near you to schedule an appointment to get tested!
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.