What is high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood. Your cells need cholesterol, and your body makes all it needs. But you also get cholesterol from the food you eat.
If you have too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries camera. (Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.) This is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. It is usually a slow process that gets worse as you get older.
To understand what happens, think about how a clog forms in the pipe under a kitchen sink. Like the buildup of grease in the pipe, the buildup of cholesterol narrows your arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow through them. It reduces the amount of blood that gets to your body tissues, including your heart. This can lead to serious problems, including heart attack and stroke.
Your cholesterol is measured by a blood test:
High cholesterol is 240 or above.
Borderline-high is 200 to 239.
Best is less than 200.
What are the different kinds of cholesterol?
LDL is the “bad” cholesterol, the kind that can clog your arteries. This is the cholesterol you need to lower, if you have high cholesterol.
HDL is the “good” cholesterol. HDL helps clear fat from your blood. A high level of HDL can help protect you from a heart attack.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. If you have high triglycerides and high LDL, your chances of having a heart attack are higher.
What are the symptoms?
High cholesterol doesn’t make you feel sick. By the time you find out you have it, it may already be clogging your arteries. So it is very important to start treatment even though you may feel fine.