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Why Cholesterol Matters
High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes, this risk increases even further. The greater the level of each risk factor, the more that factor affects your overall risk. Your cholesterol level can be affected by your age, gender, family health history and diet.
When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain (View an animation of cholesterol). Together with other substances, cholesterol can form a thick, hard deposit called plaque that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can result.
Understand Your Risk for Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels can run in families, and women generally tend to have higher levels of HDL than men. Find out more about who has high cholesterol, and discover why managing cholesterol is important even for children.
LDL (bad) cholesterol is produced naturally by the body, but many people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to make too much.
Eating foods with saturated fat or trans fats also increases the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to help lower your LDL blood cholesterol. View an animation of cholesterol.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Monitoring of Cholesterol
High cholesterol does not produce symptoms until significant damage has been done; blood testing is the only way to find out these important numbers. Know your levels and what they mean!
Prevention & Treatment of Cholesterol
You can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Take responsibility for managing your cholesterol levels with healthy lifestyle choices and a sound medical treatment plan when prescribed.
Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Over 2,100 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 40 seconds.
The good news is, you can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Working with your doctor is key. It takes a team to develop and maintain a successful health program. You and your healthcare professionals each play an important role in maintaining and improving your heart health.
Work with your doctor to determine your risk and the best approach to manage it. In all cases, lifestyle changes are important to reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke. In some cases, cholesterol-lowering statin medicines may also provide benefit.
Learn how to make diet and lifestyle changes easy and lasting. Also make sure you understand instructions for taking medication because it won’t work if you don’t take it as directed.
Your diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level.
Know Your Fats
Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don’t is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease.
Cooking for Lower Cholesterol
A heart-healthy eating plan can help you manage your blood cholesterol level.
Understand Drug Therapy Options
For some people, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to reach healthy cholesterol levels. Your doctor may prescribe medication.