By Tenille L. Lawson
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you have high cholesterol, you also have higher risks of heart disease. Although maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is good for your heart, there are no symptoms to tell if it is too high. Proactively monitoring your cholesterol is especially important if you have diabetes, obesity, or a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance. Because cholesterol is mainly fat, it travels through the blood in something called a lipoprotein. The two most commonly measured lipoproteins are LDL and HDL. These lipoproteins can be measured to tell if you have healthy cholesterol levels.
How is cholesterol measured?*
There are four types of cholesterol measurements:
- TOTAL CHOLESTEROL – Less than 200mg/dL is considered normal.
- LDL CHOLESTEROL – Less than 100mg/dL is considered normal.
- HDL CHOLESTEROL – More than 40mg/dL is usually best.
- TRIGLYCERIDES – Less than 150mg/dL is considered
*There are exceptions related to your age, other medical conditions, and health goals. You should check with your doctor for the best recommendations.
How often should I have my cholesterol checked?
For most people, it is recommended to have levels checked every 4 to 6 years; however, it may be checked more often if you have certain conditions such as diabetes.
Is cholesterol bad?
Your liver makes cholesterol because it is necessary for your body to function normally.
Unfortunately, cholesterol can build up in the walls of your blood vessels over time, especially if there is too much in your blood. This buildup can block blood flow to and from your heart, brain, and other organs. A heart attack or stroke can happen if your blood vessels are blocked.
Why are medicines called “statins” given for high cholesterol?
Statins work in three ways. First, statins lower the amount of cholesterol made by your liver. Second, statins help the liver remove cholesterol that is moving around in your blood. Finally, statins can reduce inflammation or swelling in your blood vessel walls.
If I take a statin, what else can I do to lower my cholesterol levels and keep a healthy heart?
Even if you take a medication to reduce your cholesterol levels, it is best to choose healthy foods, stay physically active, and avoid smoking to keep your heart healthy.
For more information on maintaining a healthy cholesterol level, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/