Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance inside the body, and it is used to make certain hormones, to help the liver create bile, which plays a role in the digestion of food that we eat. It is also a structural component of every cell in our body.
Two types of cholesterol are usually reported in routine cholesterol screening; 1) high density lipoprotein (HDL) also called "good cholesterol" and 2) low density lipoprotein (LDL) also called "bad cholesterol".
Cholesterol, especially LDL, can build up inside the wall of someone's blood vessels called arteries and thus increase the risk of developing heart disease. When the level of cholesterol in the blood is too high, the condition is called "high blood cholesterol."
High blood cholesterol is often due to an excessive consumption of foods that are rich in saturated fats, trans fats, dietary cholesterol, or triglycerides. However, in few cases, it can be due to excess internal production, independent of food consumption.
In 2013, 92% of New Hampshire residents age 40 years or older reported having been screened for blood cholesterol levels over the past five years. Also in 2013, 44% of New Hampshire residents ages 40 years or older reported having been told by a healthcare provider that they had high cholesterol .*
What Can Be Done to Help Prevent and Control High Blood Cholesterol
First, talk to your provider about when and if you should get tested to determine your cholesterol level. If it is high, your health care provider may prescribe medication to help control it. In addition to medications, other steps you should take to prevent high cholesterol and keep it under control include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding or quitting tobacco use and
- Limiting alcohol
Those lifestyle changes are as important as taking medications to control high blood cholesterol. Talk to your provider to learn more about other ways to manage your blood cholesterol.
*Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2013