Cholesterol and its derivatives are important constituents of the human body. It is located on the cell membranes and it is also used to create hormones. However a high amount of cholesterol LDL in the blood is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
The excess of cholesterol builds up in the arterial wall and may block it completely. That’s why people with high cholesterol are at greater risk of heart attacks, cerebrovascular accidents and other health problems.
Elevated cholesterol only gives symptoms when the artery is completely blocked. The only way to know if your cholesterol is elevated is with a blood test.
There are different kinds of cholesterol:
- Total Cholesterol
- Cholesterol LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Cholesterol HDL (good cholesterol)
- Triglycerides also increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke
Other factors that increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes include:
- A direct family member with a cardiovascular disease
- Unhealthy diet
- Advanced age
If you have 3 or more of these risk factors you are at high risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.
Cholesterol medication are not indicated on every patient with elevated cholesterol. Your doctor will recommend them based on your age, family history and the presence of other health issues.
You will probably need to take a cholesterol medicine if:
- You already had a heart attack or stroke
- You have a heart disease
- You have diabetes
- You have peripheral arterial disease
- You have an abdominal aortic aneurysm
Your cholesterol may decrease if you avoid red meat, butter, fried foods, maintain a proper weight and increase your physical activity.