Cholesterol is a wax-like substance made by the liver, and also found within certain types of foods. Although cholesterol is often referred to as a bad thing, it's only bad when there is too much of it in the body. The body actually needs cholesterol to help with structuring cell membranes, producing hormones, and keeping the metabolism efficient. However, the amount of cholesterol needed for these things is relatively small. Any excess cholesterol in the body can cause some serious health issues.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is also known as "good cholesterol." With HDL readings, higher numbers are better. HDL helps get rid of LDL in the body.
LDL cholesterol is known as "bad cholesterol." The higher the number, the higher the bad cholesterol in the body is, so lower numbers are best on LDL readings.
The total cholesterol number is based upon 3 things: The HDL, the LDL, and the triglycerides readings. If the triglycerides are high in combination with either high LDL or low HDL, it can mean an elevated risk of heart attack or stroke.
High cholesterol can increase a patient's risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular system diseases. Cholesterol can accumulate within the walls of the arteries, which will in turn make blood flow difficult or impossible. This can lead to serious health problems, even potentially deadly ones like heart attack or stroke.
Lifestyle changes can make a major difference for people with high cholesterol. This includes reduction of trans fats and the increase of soluble fiber in the diet. Prescription medication may also be needed to help get cholesterol under control. As long as the patient is dedicated to making healthy dietary changes, serious health consequences can often be prevented.
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