High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) defines cholesterol as a waxy substance produced by the liver or consumed in certain foods. It is needed by the body, and the liver makes enough for the body’s needs. When there is too much cholesterol in the body, it is deposited in arteries, including those of the heart and brain. This can lead to narrowing of the arteries, heart disease, stroke, and other problems. If your arteries become too narrow for blood to flow through, you may be at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
See your doctor for a cholesterol screening to assess your risk, and to find out your cholesterol numbers. A lipid panel or profile can be done to measure several different forms of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. There are different types of cholesterol, both good and bad. HDL (high density lipoprotein) is known as “good” cholesterol and actually offers some protection against heart disease and stroke, whereas LDL (low density lipoprotein) is referred to as “bad” cholesterol and can lead to heart disease and stroke. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to successfully lower your cholesterol. However, proper nutrition and regular physical activity are extremely important, and their effects should not be underestimated. They are necessary components and compliment most healthcare plans. In fact, often times, these two behaviors alone may be enough to successfully lower and control ones cholesterol levels. Note: always check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise plan.