Risks of High Cholesterol

A Rush Copley cardiologist discusses the risks of high cholesterol and ways to manage

Heart Health
Doctor holding heart

Your cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. The higher your cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance made in the liver and found in certain foods. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of the arteries and causes them to harden and narrow, making blood flow to the heart slowed or blocked. If not enough blood and oxygen can reach your heart, or if the blood flow to a portion of the heart is completely stopped by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.

People with high cholesterol usually don't have any symptoms, which is why it is important for adults to get their cholesterol checked every five years. A blood test called a lipid profile can determine your cholesterol levels. This test is done after a 12-hour fast and provides total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and Triglycerides.

If you have high cholesterol, here are some ways to help manage it:

  • Eat healthy — Diet plays a substantial role for many health issues and cholesterol is no exception.
  • Get active — Physical activity is important and can help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.
  • Consider drug therapy — If diet and exercise aren't enough, your doctor may choose to recommend a statin, a medication used to help lower LDL cholesterol.

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