High Cholesterol

Written by eHealth Navigator

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance (material) that is naturally found in your body. Your body needs cholesterol to do important things, like make hormones and digest fatty foods. Your body makes all of the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in some foods like egg yolks, liver, and whole milk. Extra cholesterol can build up inside your arteries (the tubes that take blood away from the heart) and make it hard for blood to flow. Over time, too much build-up can lead to heart disease and heart attack.

What affects cholesterol levels?

Many things affect the amount of cholesterol in your body:
•  Family history – high cholesterol can run in families.
•  Age – as you get older, your cholesterol levels go up.
•  Weight – losing extra weight can help lower your cholesterol levels.
•  Diet – eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.
•  Physical activity – getting active can help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol.

High cholesterol often leads to partially-blocked coronary arteries; which is the most common cause of heart disease and death in the world. With more than one million coronary stent procedures performed in the United States each year, stenting has become one of the most popular forms of treatment to open these plaque-encrusted atherosclerotic coronary arteries.

However, stenting does not always provide permanent relief from arterial blockage. According to the American Heart Association, about 1 in 4 stent patients will experience restenosis, a repeated narrowing of the stented artery, within 3 to 6 months following the procedure. Restenosis requires some patients to undergo a second stenting procedure to alleviate the subsequent blockage, increasing their risk for arterial damage and further complications from the unnatural pressure exerted on the artery. For others, a full bypass operation is the only solution.

There are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol. That’s why it’s so important to get your cholesterol levels checked.

What if I have high cholesterol?

You can lower your cholesterol to help reduce your risk of heart disease and live a longer, healthier life. That’s why it’s so important to find out your cholesterol levels as soon as possible. As your cholesterol level gets higher, so does your risk of heart disease.

Take these steps to lower your cholesterol:
•  Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
•  Get active
•  Watch your weight
•  If you smoke, quit
•  Ask your doctor if you also need a special diet or medicine.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 3 February 2013 1:12PM