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What is High Cholesterol
What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid, or fat, which is found in a person’s blood. A person’s cells need cholesterol to function, however the body makes all it could ever need. Cholesterol levels become elevated when a person eats numerous foods which are high in the fat. If too much cholesterol builds up in a person’s blood vessels and arteries it can cause hardening of the arteries called atherosclerosis. This can in term cause blood flow problems. It can also lead to blood clots and inflammation which can contribute to heart attacks and strokes. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol is “bad” and can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. HDL is “good” and is linked to lower risks of heart disease and stroke.
What Affects a Person’s Cholesterol Levels?
Various factors can contribute to high cholesterol levels including:
- Foods- Eating foods which are high in saturated and trans fats in addition to cholesterol can raise a person’s levels.
- Inactivity- Not exercising can actually lower a person’s HDL cholesterol.
- Family History- If family members have high cholesterol it is possible that the person will
- develop it.
- Age- Cholesterol levels begin to rise after age 20.
- Obesity- Being overweight can also lower a person’s HDL cholesterol.
How is High Cholesterol Tested for?
A blood test performed by a doctor is the only way to know if cholesterol levels are normal. A cholesterol test, also known as a lipid panel, measures the fats in a person’s blood. High cholesterol often does not come with symptoms, because of this it is important to being cholesterol screening during an annual exam at age 20.
Why Does Having High Cholesterol Matter?
When a person has high cholesterol it puts him or her at a greater risk for heart disease, hearth attacks, and strokes. Doctors also use cholesterol levels in combination with other factors to determine if a person also has high blood pressure and diabetes.