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How is your Cholesterol?
Your body needs cholesterol because it is used to build cell membranes, help produce vitamin D and produce certain hormones. The cholesterol found in a person’s bloodstream comes from two sources. It is either produced in the liver or absorbed by the intestines from the foods we eat. The liver adds and removes cholesterol to your bloodstream.
HDL is known as good cholesterol and prevents the formation of solids. This cholesterol travels away from the arteries returning to the liver where it can be removed from blood circulation.
LDL is known as bad cholesterol and cannot prevent the cholesterol from forming a solid and building up on the artery walls. A person is at risk of developing heart disease when their level of LDL or bad cholesterol is high and/or their level of HDL or good cholesterol is low.
What factors have an effect on Cholesterol?
- Diet – People with diets that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol have a greater risk of raising their levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Saturated fats come from meats and dairy products; oils derived from coconut, palm and cocoa as well as oils processed by hydrogenation.
- Heredity – Family history is significant to the development of cholesterol related heart disease. Some people inherit a common disorder that affects the liver’s ability to detect and remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. Other people inherit a tendency for either very low or very high HDL cholesterol.
- Gender – Women whose bodies still produce estrogen usually have a lower LDL rate than men. After menopause, women’s LDL’s increase significantly.
- Inactivity – Regular exercise increases your good (HDL) cholesterol. If you are inactive, you are at a higher risk of developing a cholesterol problem.
- Smoking – Smoking significantly reduces your good (HDL) cholesterol. If you smoke, you double your risk of heart attack even with normal cholesterol levels.
- Weight – Persons with excess weight tend to have increased LDL cholesterol levels.
How can I manage cholesterol?
Managing cholesterol is important. Making a commitment to change your lifestyle is actually making a decision to change your future. To manage your cholesterol, a combination of techniques that lower your LDL’s and increase your HDL’s is the most effective.
- Eat healthy – Reduce items that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol and increase foods that are low in saturated fats.
- Maintain an Active Lifestyle – Regular exercise whether it is walking, swimming, cycling and even moderate housework will help increase your good cholesterol-reducing your chances of developing heart disease.
- Lose Excess Weight – Excess fat, not only affects your cholesterol putting you at risk for heart disease, but it is also a high risk factor for other diseases including diabetes.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking drastically reduces good (HDL) cholesterol in your body. Even if your cholesterol is normal, smoking doubles your risk of developing heart disease along with many other potential health problems.
When is medication used to control cholesterol?
A healthier lifestyle to control cholesterol may not work for everyone. If you need medication, your doctor will prescribe a drug based on factors such as the degree that your cholesterol needs to be lowered, other medications that you may currently be taking and the possible side effects.
Studies indicate that blood cholesterol levels begin to change in weeks and can change significantly within months. Improved blood flow through arteries is evident in about 12 months due to the stabilization of artery walls.
It is important to note that studies indicate that many people who have been put on a cholesterol managing regimen have either stopped or reversed their heart disease. Others have significantly reduced their risks of developing the disease in the future. You can too.