Why is controlling cholesterol so important?
main reason that controlling cholesterol has become so important is
because elevated levels of cholesterol have been associated with
increased risk of vascular disease. When cholesterol is high, you have a
greater risk of developing plaques and “blockages” in your arteries. If
the blockage becomes significant this causes symptoms of vascular
disease. Vascular diseases include (among others) heart attack, stroke
and peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
What is cholesterol?
is made by your liver as a means to transport fats throughout your
body. These fats are a necessary part of your body functions. We need
some of these fats as building blocks for your cells. However, too much
is not a good thing.
I’ve heard of good cholesterol. What does this mean?
cholesterol levels are important but there are many types of
cholesterol. The main ones that are evaluated include triglycerides, LDL
(also known as the “bad cholesterol”) and HDL (also known as the “good
cholesterol”). HDL cholesterol actually provides some decrease of
What are the other risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
risk factors for vascular disease include male gender or women after
menopause, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, physical
inactivity and family history of early cardiovascular disease.
Why does cholesterol go up?
becomes elevated because of two possible reasons. One is genetics and
the other is lifestyle. In terms of the lifestyle aspect of this, the
main cause of elevated cholesterol is inappropriate diet, physical
inactivity, and smoking.
What should my cholesterol be?
depends on if you have other risk factors for vascular disease. Total
LDL as well as the ratio of LDL and HDL is important. Of course, any
goals for ideal cholesterol should be based on an individual evaluation
and customized based on your medical history.
Who should get their cholesterol checked?
current recommendations of the US Preventive Services Task Force is for
people to get their cholesterol checked on the basis of age and risk
factors. The more risk factors you have and the higher your age, the
more important it is to get your cholesterol checked. Again, the
decision to check your cholesterol is an individualized/customized
decision and should be a part of a discussion with your doctor.
What can I do to get my cholesterol at an appropriate level?
your cholesterol is high, there are two ways to reduce it—lifestyle
modification and medications. In terms of lifestyle modification, this
includes many changes but the most common recommendations include
reaching ideal body weight and controlling the amount of fat in the diet
(particularly saturated fat), quitting smoking and getting more
Where can I get more information?
American Heart Association and WebMD both have excellent websites that
offer scientifically based information about cholesterol and heart
disease. Here are some helpful links below:
American Heart Association