CHOLESTEROL

    WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?

Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance which is produced in the liver and is found in your blood. Although it is essential to our health, it can be both "good" and "bad" for us.  "Good" because not only is it used in forming cell membranes and certain hormones, it also supplies other functions our body requires. "Bad" because high levels of cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia) can cause heart attack, stroke and other diseases. Our bodies need a small amount of cholesterol, however, too much can be detrimental.     

Cholesterol originates from either your diet or from liver production.  Your liver can remove cholesterol from your bloodstream, but also, produce and secrete it into your blood circulation.


Cholesterol build-up in an artery

  ARE YOU AT RISK FOR HIGH CHOLESTEROL?
     
       DO YOU HAVE. . . 
  • A diet high in fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypothyrodism (underactive thyroid gland)
  • Nephrosis (chronic kidney disease)
  • Oral contraceptives usage
  • Estrogen hormone replacement
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
THE "GOOD" - THE "BAD" - THE "UGLY" CHOLESTEROL

          Your total cholesterol is made up of both LDL "BAD" and HDL "GOOD".

  • LDL(Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is referred to as "BAD" because it can build up in the wall of your arteries where it can form plaque.  Over a period of time, plaque can cause your arteries to narrow which may restrict or block the blood flow to your heart, brain or other vital organs.  Abnormally high LDL cholesterol is a major cause of coronary heart disease and stroke.

  • HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is referred to as "GOOD" because it prevents the "BAD" cholesterol from building up in your arteries.

  • Triglycerides, chains of high-energy fatty acids, contribute most of the energy needed for celluar function.  High levels of triglycerides have been associated with the progression of coronary heart disease.


WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL?
  • Most people DO NOT have any symptoms until the damage is quite extensive. Invasive procedures are then necessary, such as angioplasty, heart by-pass surgery or carotid artery surgery.  This is why screening is so important.  You do not want a heart attack or stroke to be the first sign of high cholesterol!

  • Sometimes cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels of your heart and cause chest pain, commonly referred to as "angina".


HOW DO YOU FIND OUT IF YOU HAVE HIGH CHOLESTEROL?
  • A simple blood test (complete lipid profile) is all you need.  Once you have this information, you can discuss with your doctor an appropriate course of action to lower your cholesterol level.  It may only require a simple lifestyle change, or for more severe cases, medication.


      WHAT CAN I DO TO LOWER MY CHOLESTEROL?
  • Follow the advice of your doctor

  • Eat a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.  

  • See our DIET DO'S & DON'TS

  • Exercise! Exercise is perhaps the most beneficial action you can take to improve your overall health. Work out for at least 30 minutes a day, about 5 times a week.  Consult your doctor before you start any exercise program.  

  • See our EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS



INTERESTING FACTS:
  • Women over the age of 55 tend to have higher cholesterol levels than men.

  • Your cholesterol levels may be linked to family history.  If your parents had high cholesterol, you have a greater chance of having the same problem.