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Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that's found in all your cells and is necessary to help your body function properly. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The remainder of the cholesterol in your body comes from foods from animals, like meat and dairy.
If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances to form plaque that can lead to narrowed arteries and possibly a heart attack or stroke. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and medication if needed can help reduce high cholesterol.
What do your cholesterol levels mean?
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Too much of the bad kind, or not enough of the good kind, increases the risk that cholesterol will slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries. High cholesterol doesn’t have obvious symptoms that you can feel, but it can increase your risk of conditions that do have symptoms, like heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about getting tested.
In the past, doctors relied on specific ranges for LDL. Today, the American Heart Association recommends that doctors consider LDL levels as one factor among many when evaluating cardiovascular risk. Visit Cholesterol: Adult Management for more information. Talk to your doctor about your LDL cholesterol level as well as other factors that impact your cardiovascular health.
Preventing and Managing High Cholesterol
High cholesterol can be lowered! Remember to check, change and control your cholesterol. The American Heart Association has a Check. Change. Control Calculator that helps you learn your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- Check your cholesterol levels. It’s key to know your numbers.
- Change your diet and lifestyle to help improve your levels.
- Control your cholesterol, with help from your doctor if needed.