High cholesterol happens when cholesterol, a wax-like substance made by the liver and found in some foods, occurs at overly high levels in the body. The body needs cholesterol to work properly, but when cholesterol levels get too high, major health issues may arise.
High cholesterol levels can result in a great deal of damage to the body. As the arteries clog up with cholesterol, the heart is no longer able to receive the blood supply it needs. This lack of oxygen-rich blood flow may cause chest pain. It could also result in heart attack or stroke.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol. It is so called because it works to remove the bad type of cholesterol, the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL,) from the blood. This removal keeps the cholesterol from building up in the arteries, thus preventing heart damage.
The total cholesterol reflects both HDL and LDL cholesterol in the body. There will also be separate HDL and LDL numbers. Total cholesterol numbers should be 200 mg/dL or lower ideally. Borderline total cholesterol is between 200 to 239 mg/dL, and high cholesterol is 240 mg/dL or greater. For LDL cholesterol, good numbers are 100 mg/dL or lower, borderline is 130 to 159 mg/dL, and high is 160 mg/dL or greater. For HDL, good numbers are 40 mg/dL or higher and low is 39 mg/dL or lower.
Lifestyle changes are often the first choice for high cholesterol treatment. This usually includes eating a healthier diet, especially one rich with omega 3 fatty acids and more soluble fiber. The doctor may also prescribe a medication to lower cholesterol levels.
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