- Cholesterol is a waxy substance that's found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.
High cholesterol can be inherited, but is often preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol. High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. They are:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or "bad," cholesterol transports cholesterol particles throughout your body.
Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This type of lipoprotein contains the most triglycerides, a type of fat, attached to the proteins in your blood.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or "good," cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
Factors within your control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. Factors beyond your control may play a role, too. For example, your genetic makeup may keep cells from removing LDL cholesterol from your blood efficiently or cause your liver to produce too much cholesterol. You're more likely to have high cholesterol that can lead to heart disease if you have any of these risk factors: Smoking, Obesity, Poor diet, Lack of exercise, High blood pressure, Diabetes or Family history of heart disease.
Lifestyle changes such as exercising and eating a healthy diet are the first line of defense against high cholesterol. But, if you've made these important lifestyle changes and your total cholesterol — and particularly your LDL cholesterol — remains high, your doctor may recommend medication. Lifestyle changes are essential to improve your cholesterol level. To bring your numbers down, lose excess weight, eat healthy foods and increase your physical activity. If you smoke, quit.
A Few natural products have been proven to reduce cholesterol, but some might be helpful - Artichoke, Barley, psyllium, Garlic, and Oat bran. The same heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol can help prevent you from having high cholesterol in the first place. To help prevent high cholesterol, you can: Lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight, Quit smoking, Eat a low-fat, low-salt diet that includes many fruits, vegetables and whole grains, Exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes, Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Optimal Total cholesterol is 5mmol/L or under: Optimal LDL cholesterol is 3mmol?L or under: Optimal Triglycerides is 2mmol/L or under: Optimal HDL cholesterol is 1mmol/L or under for men and 1.2 mmol/L or under for women.
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Garvan J. Lynch M.B.A. (Public Health) D.I.C.