WHAT IS HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance manufactured in your liver. It is an important substance in your body’s cell membranes. Cholesterol plays a part in the formation of certain hormones like estrogen and testosterone. You body also uses it to form the digestive acids that break down the fatty food you eat. The amount of Cholesterol your body needs to accomplish all these things is very small. Unfortunately, the modern diet usually adds more cholesterol than is needed to your blood stream.

When there are too many fatty substances, lipoproteins, in your blood, you have what is called High cholesterol. High cholesterol is a lipid disorder, and the substances at the root of it are low density (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. The condition does not have any obvious symptoms. Like high blood pressure, many people are unaware that there is a cause for concern.

Cholesterol is made up of three parts: low-density (LDL) cholesterol, high density (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol. As it travels through your arteries parts of it tend to break off and attach to the walls. This can eventually build up a thick, hard deposit called plaque, a bump on the artery wall.

A vicious cycle begins. As more LDL is caught by the plaque over time, the arteries begin to narrow. Even more of the plaque is formed and this continues to narrow the artery even further. The danger here is the narrower your arteries become the less oxygenated blood gets to your heart and brain. If the condition goes untreated and one of your arteries should close completely, you will suffer a heart attack or a stroke. Another concern is the plaque could rupture sending off debris and clots which also could result in other blockages as well as heart attack or stroke.

Your body turns the unused fats and calories from your meals into triglycerides. What your body does not burn immediately is stored in fat cells for the future. The modern diet, which is very high in carbohydrates and processed foods, coupled with a less active lifestyle tends to form high levels of triglycerides in the blood.

High density cholesterol (HDL) has the job of balancing the blood. It acts as a scavenger and collects the LDL cholesterol in your blood and carries it back to the liver. Here, it can be recycled and used by your body. Eventually, the excess is eliminated as waste. It can process LDL and change it into a less toxic form. LDL may even remove excess cholesterol from the plaque in your arteries.

Individuals with high cholesterol usually have an over abundance of triglycerides and LDL and a much lower amount of HDL.

Depending on the level of cholesterol found during your blood test, and your risk factors for a heart attack, here are a few things you physician will recommend. Eat low cholesterol foods. Foods like dairy products, eggs, and meat should be avoided since they are sources of dietary cholesterol. It’s also best to avoid foods high in saturated fats. Exercise is thought to increase HDL levels as does smoking cessation. Smoking is known to lower HDL levels. If these lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your cholesterol, your doctor will prescribe medication. You should be sure to take it to get the benefits.

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