Your body needs some cholesterol, but too much can raise your risk of heart disease. Know the types (HDL and LDL), and how to lower high cholesterol. There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol: It is called the "bad" cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. If you have a high LDL level, this means that you have too much LDL cholesterol. Cholesterol is both good and bad. At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body. However, if concentrations in the blood get too.
Is Cholesterol?: What
Cholesterol is present in every cell of the body and has important natural functions when it comes to digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. The body produces it, but people also consume it in food. It is waxy and fat-like in appearance. In this article, we will explain the role of cholesterol. We will also discuss the causes of high cholesterol, and its symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease and a cause of heart attacks. A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.
Reducing the intake of fat in the diet helps to manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:. Excess weight or obesity can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetic factors can contribute to high cholesterol. People with the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia have very high LDL levels.
A person with high cholesterol levels often has no signs or symptoms, but routine screening and regular blood tests can help detect high levels.
A person who does not undergo testing may have a heart attack without warning, because they did not know that they had high cholesterol levels. Regular tests can help to reduce this risk. A report from Harvard Health has identified 11 cholesterol-lowering foods that actively decrease cholesterol levels:. Various low cholesterol recipe books are available to purchase online. HDL levels should be kept higher. People who wish to reduce their cholesterol levels or maintain a suitable level can make four major lifestyle decisions.
Since , guidelines on reducing or preventing high cholesterol have focused on addressing lifestyle risks, even at a young age. Since , new guidelines published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also urged doctors also to discuss with individuals the following factors that may increase a person's risk:.
Taking these factors into consideration will lead to a more personalized approach to the treatment and prevention of high cholesterol levels. For a person with high cholesterol levels, drug treatment will depend on their cholesterol level and other risk factors. Recommendatoins usually start with diet and exercise, but people with a higher risk of a heart attack may need to use statins or other medications.
Statins are the leading group of cholesterol-lowering drugs. The statins available on prescription in the United States include:. In , researchers noted that a new drug, ezetimibe, can significantly reduce the risk of a major cardiovascular event in people with a high risk of such events.
Etezimibe reduces lipid levels by limiting the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. The authors of the updated also mentioned another new type of drug: There is evidence that these drugs are effective at reducing cholesterol levels, especially when a person uses them with ezetimibe. In , new guidelines recommended a stepped approach, depending on how high an individual's risk is. The new guidelines emphasize preventing heart disease in the short- and long-term, and recommend "therapeutic lifestyle changes TLC " to lower LDL.
Drugs to reduce LDL include the "statins," bile acid sequestrants, nicotinic acid and fibric acid. If your LDL and heart-disease risk are both high, doctors may prescribe medications at the same time as lifestyle changes. Those who are started on a cholesterol-lowering medication will need to continue lifestyle changes.
A group of specific risk factors, known as the metabolic syndrome, raise your risk for coronary disease at any LDL cholesterol level. If you have three of the following risk factors, you may have metabolic syndrome, and need more rigorous cholesterol lowering:. Middle-aged men age 35 — 65 are predisposed to abdominal obesity and the metabolic syndrome. And African Americans are twice as likely to die of diabetes as whites. Different groups of people and ethnicities develop diabetes and its associated complications differently, it turns out.
Biological differences help explain why some groups of people are harder hit than others. Blacks are more insulin resistant than whites, for example. And Osei has noticed another big difference: A type of fat that circulates in the body, cholesterol comes in two varieties: HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol, and it plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease by keeping the walls of the arteries healthy and by removing artery-clogging LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, from the bloodstream.
Considering the high levels of heart disease in African Americans, you would think they might lack HDL cholesterol, at least compared with whites. But the opposite is true. Based on their high levels of "good" cholesterol, "African Americans shouldn't suffer from cardiovascular disease," says Osei.
But, paradoxically, they do—at rates nearly double those of whites. Does HDL have the same function in blacks as it does in white people?
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. It is produced by your body and also found in food. While it is needed for good health, too much cholesterol can. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that's found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy. The cholesterol in your blood comes from the foods you eat and your liver. Your liver makes all of the cholesterol your body needs.