High cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Buildup of cholesterol in the arteries is also known as atherosclerosis — sometimes called hardening of the arteries. When arteries are clogged, there is a greater risk of problems such as heart attack and stroke.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that helps make vitamins and hormones in the body. It also travels in the bloodstream in small packages of lipoproteins (fat + protein).
Types of cholesterol.
“Good” cholesterol (HDL) is made up of high-density lipoproteins. “Bad” cholesterol (LDL) is made up of low-density lipoproteins. LDL can lead to cholesterol buildup and plaque in blood vessels, causing narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which triggers a condition called high blood cholesterol and increases the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Triglycerides are another form of fat found in the blood. Calories you eat that your body doesn’t need right away become triglycerides and are stored in your fat cells.
|Total cholesterol||Less than 200 mg/dL||200-239 mg/dL||240 mg/dL or higher|
|HDL||60 mg/dL or higher|
|LDL||Less than 100 mg/dL||130-159 mg/dL|
|Triglycerides||Less than 150 mg/dL||150-199 mg/dL|
Know your risk for high cholesterol.
There are certain health conditions, behaviors, and age factors that increase your risk for high cholesterol:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Family history of high cholesterol
- Eating a diet high in saturated fat and trans fat
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Increasing age — everyone’s risk goes up as they get older
How to prevent high cholesterol.
Living healthy can help you reduce your chances of having high cholesterol, decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.