Cholesterol What's in the Number

 Cholesterol What's in the Number

High cholesterol is a major health concern for a large number of people. It is estimated that nearly half of the population in the United States, approximately 98 million people have high cholesterol. A diet with foods high in saturated fat and trans fatty acids, plus a sedentary lifestyle contribute to reasons for the problem in most people. There are many risks of high cholesterol, including death.

What is cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential to good health and is a lipid, or fat, produced by the liver. It assists in producing cell membranes and hormones, helps convert sunlight into Vitamin D, and aids in the digestion of food and fats in the body. There are three types of cholesterol. There is High Density Lipoprotein, HDL, which is considered the good cholesterol, Low Density Lipoprotein, LDL, the bad cholesterol, and the third type of cholesterol is triglycerides.

Cholesterol What's in the Number

How can You Tell if Your Cholesterol is Too High

During a routine physical exam, your doctor may take a blood sample to check your cholesterol levels. A healthy level of cholesterol is measured at 200 mgdl or below. Any number 240 mgdl or above is considered too high.

Why is There Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol

HDL and LDL cholesterol are considered good and bad respectively because of the issues that can crop up if your HDL is too low, or your LDL is too high. When your cholesterol level is checked, all three types are checked for the amount of each present in your bloodstream. HDL works in your blood to carry cholesterol away from cells and back to the liver where it is broken down or expelled as waste. If your HDL is too low, it cannot properly perform this function, and your cholesterol levels can rise. LDL does the opposite job of HDL. It takes cholesterol from the liver to cells, and if too much is produced, the cells cannot absorb it all, so it will build up in the bloodstream. Triglycerides are released from fat cells and used as energy when your body needs a boost and there is no food in your system.

What are the Effects of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is akin to heart disease, as the problems associated with it can lead to heart problems and strokes. Having too much cholesterol in your blood can create plaque buildup in your arteries, narrowing them and causing problems with blood circulation. Poor circulation can cause heart attacks, cerebrovascular disease because blood flow is restricted or stopped, and strokes. All of these issues can be fatal or cause irreversible damage to the body or brain.

How is High Cholesterol Treated

The first step in almost every cholesterol changing regime is to change your diet to exclude foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, whole milk and cheese. Foods with trans fatty acids should be eliminated, or at least avoided as much as possible. They include pre-packaged snack foods, cookies, and other baked goods. Your doctor will also suggest getting more exercise and cutting out smoking if you are a smoker. If your levels are in the high range, you may be prescribed medications to help lower your cholesterol and promote better blood circulation.

High cholesterol has become a big problem in this country as the population is becoming increasingly obese. It doesn't matter your age if you consume unhealthy foods and don't get enough exercise. Increasing your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, cold water fish, getting a good night's sleep and exercising at least 20 minutes three times a week can help you keep your cholesterol in check.

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