:: Health Conditions - Cholesterol
- Lowering Cholesterol
Cholesterol is an important fatlike substance (lipid) that
is made in the liver and is necessary for the body to function.
It also is found in foods made from animal products (meat
and dairy products).
Cells need cholesterol to function. If you eat too many high-cholesterol
foods and/or too much saturated fat or you have an inherited
tendency to make too much cholesterol, your cholesterol levels
may be too high. However, excess cholesterol in the blood
builds up in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of the
arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and stroke. People
who have diabetes are at higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Your body gets cholesterol from two sources: from the foods
you eat and from your liver. Although many foods contain cholesterol,
your liver actually produces up to 80% of what you need.
There are two main forms of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
is called "bad cholesterol." Most efforts to lower
cholesterol are aimed at reducing levels of LDL.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
is called "good cholesterol." It can help remove
excess cholesterol from the blood vessels.
The cholesterol level can be checked with a blood test. If
it is too high, lifestyle changes (such as diet changes and
exercise) may help lower it. Some people may need medication
to lower their cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of
Total cholesterol refers to the total amount of cholesterol
in a person's blood. It includes high-density lipoprotein
(HDL) cholesterol, which is sometimes called the "good
cholesterol," and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,
sometimes called the "bad cholesterol."
Cholesterol is measured either in milligrams per deciliter
of blood (mg/dL) or in millimoles per liter of blood (mmol/L).
- A total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL (5.17
mmol/L) is desirable.
- 200 to 239 mg/dL (5.17 to 6.18 mmol/L) is considered borderline
- 240 mg/dL (6.21 mmol/L) or higher is considered high cholesterol.
The ratio of total cholesterol to "good" (HDL)
cholesterol is also important, especially if total cholesterol
What is High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is caused by eating a diet too high in cholesterol
and saturated fat or by having an inherited condition that
causes elevated cholesterol levels.
The best way to lower your cholesterol includes eating a more
healthful diet, increasing
and possibly taking cholesterol-lowering medications
A blood test can determine
whether you have high cholesterol. Cholesterol is measured
in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter
Total cholesterol (mg/dL) Classification Total cholesterol
|less than 200 mg/dL
|200 to 239
5.17 - 6.18
|240 or higher
6.21 or higher