Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance in the blood. Cholesterol in itself is not harmful and the body needs a certain amount to function properly. However, as levels rise cholesterol can begin to clog the arteries and lead to heart disease.
There are no symptoms to indicate you have a high or low cholesterol level and it is impossible to determine your levels without taking a lipid test.
Cholesterol is a transport molecule that packages and shuttles fatty substances around the body.
Blood cholesterol levels are influenced by two factors: The first is the food a person eats. The second is how much cholesterol his or her body makes. Cholesterol is made by the body in the liver.
A lipid (fat) test can be taken on a blood sample to determine your cholesterol levels. The test measures levels of trigylcerides (fat in the blood), High-Density and Lipid protein (HDL, good protein) and Low-Density Lipid protein (LDL, bad protein).
The first, LDL is known as ’bad’ cholesterol as too much of it can clog your arteries. The second, HDL is known as ’good’ cholesterol as it carries cholesterol away from your arteries.
Your doctor will assess your condition on an individual basis and take into account the number of risk factors in your life for heart disease. If your levels are higher than they should be, a program of treatment will aim to lower them through lifestyle modification as well as medication.
Dietary therapy is a fundamental part of any cholesterol treatment program. Weight loss is a primary goal for overweight patients.
Losing fat cells is sometimes all that is necessary to lower cholesterol. Studies have shown diets consisting of monounsaturated fats (such as whole grains, fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit) can help.
Other factors to consider are combining dietary therapy with 30 minutes of moderate daily aerobic exercise, and quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol intake.
Your doctor can provide expert advice regarding safe participation in exercise and a healthy lifestyle to complement your cholesterol medications or treatments. This website also contains some excellent resources, so take some time to browse.