Cholesterol is waxy substance that is produced by the liver. It plays an important role in your total health and is vital to your body as it helps promote cell membrane formation. The substance also plays a role in forming certain hormones and vitamin D. With that said, you might be under the impression that cholesterol is bad and something to avoid. There is good reason for that impression. While some cholesterol is vital to your health, too much of it can create serious problems.
Risks of High Cholesterol
One of the main problems with cholesterol is that it doesn’t travel through your body easily because it doesn’t dissolve in water. That means that it has to be helped along by particles called lipoproteins in order to reach its destination. This is where the problem arises. There are two forms of lipoproteins, and you’ve probably encountered them before:
- High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL)
- Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL)
LDL is often referenced as “bad cholesterol”, and it’s the cholesterol that causes most of the issues in your body. If your cholesterol is high, LDL begins to build up in your blood vessels and arteries. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for blood to circulate, which often leads to significant health problems like heart disease, one of the main risks of high cholesterol.
Monitoring High Cholesterol
One of the main dangers of high cholesterol is that it doesn’t often exhibit distinct symptoms. Instead, it quietly builds up until it leads to a more serious problem like a heart attack. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to ensure that your levels are healthy and your heart is in good shape, however. Visiting your doctor is a great first step to take. Your physician should be able to give you a blood test that will determine whether or not your cholesterol levels are too high.
After you turn 20, it’s time to start asking for the cholesterol test. You don’t need to have it done every year. Aim for every four to six years instead, although your doctor might suggest you have the test more frequently if your family has a history of high cholesterol.
Ways to Lower Cholesterol
There are a few different things that factor into cholesterol levels. Diet is a big one. Consuming more cholesterol and the foods that help promote it can lead to higher levels than what is healthy. Eating large amounts of meat, animal foods, and cheese, for example, can lead to raised cholesterol levels. Obesity, diabetes, and kidney or liver disease are other health concerns that can contribute to high cholesterol. Doing your best to limit these kinds of foods and to keep as much excess weight off as possible is one of the best ways to lower cholesterol.
Make an appointment to see a physician today to help stay on top of cholesterol levels before they become a problem.