High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is a necessary component in the cells of all living animals. Cholesterol is also found in the body's circulatory system. Cholesterol in the blood originates from two major sources; food intake and liver production. LDL is considered "bad" cholesterol as excess levels of this are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Over time, LDL cholesterol plaque forms on the walls of the arteries causing atherosclerosis. HDL cholesterol is considered "good" cholesterol as it extracts cholesterol plaque from the artery walls and dispose of it through the liver. The liver not only manufactures and secretes LDL cholesterol into the blood; it also removes it from the blood through LDL receptors on the cells of the liver. When a person has a decreased number of these receptors, high cholesterol occurs.

Treatments to reduce LDL cholesterol include increasing the activity of the LDL receptors through diets that are low in cholesterol and saturated fats, and through medication. Lifestyle changes play a major role in controlling cholesterol levels in the blood and maintaining a healthy weight, proper diet, and exercising can greatly improve cholesterol levels. Medications are often prescribed when lifestyle changes do not reduce LDL levels to healthy levels.

Medical Risks:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke