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Cholesterol Facts

We hear a lot about how bad high cholesterol levels are, though we do need some in our system as this is what builds healthy cells. Cholesterol is a substance found in lipids, or blood fats. When cholesterol levels become too high this can result in fatty buildups within blood vessels. In turn, the passageways become narrower which decreases blood flow. Without the proper amount of blood to the brain a stroke can take place. Without enough blood to the heart, a heart attack will occur.

Unfortunately there are no signs or symptoms which alert a person that cholesterol levels are too high. Suffering a stroke or heart attack are generally signs that cholesterol is out of control, but it’s best not to wait until that happens. The only way to find out is through blood tests. At the age of 21 a person should go have their cholesterol checked, this can then be used as a baseline for future tests. Tests should be taken every five years.

If you have family history of high cholesterol or have had it yourself, are diabetic and/or smoke tobacco your chances of developing high cholesterol increases. If you are overweight, do not eat healthy foods and get little exercise this further increases your likelihood of developing it.

There are several types of medication made specifically for lowering cholesterol levels. However, there are things that you can do at home which will aid in lowering it. Lose any extra pounds. Even if you do not manage to achieve your recommended weight, ridding yourself of any amount will make a difference.

Eating healthier will also result in reduced cholesterol levels. Eliminate bad fats, or “trans” fats from your diet. Increase your intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and “heart healthy” fish. These include: Salmon, mackerel and herring. Artichoke, barley, garlic and whole oats are thought to have some affect in lowering cholesterol levels.

Limit the amount of alcohol that you drink. Eliminate salt from your diet. Stop smoking if you are a smoker. And begin an exercise routine.

Sometimes the efforts you make at home does not lower cholesterol to acceptable levels and you may need medication as well. Your health care provider will determine which type you need after examining you and doing blood work. It is very important to monitor cholesterol levels because if left untreated for a period of time this can contribute to other health issues which can be fatal.