Why You Should Be Concerned About Having High Cholesterol (2022)

High cholesterol can harm your health. It's important to keep track of your cholesterol levels because you may not have any symptoms until a serious problem occurs—like a heart attack or a stroke.

This article explains the causes of high cholesterol. It also discusses how to treat and prevent it.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Having High Cholesterol (1)

Overview

You need cholesterol to produce hormones, digest food, and make vitamin D.

Your body has two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL.

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is sometimes called "bad cholesterol" because high LDL levels can contribute to cholesterol buildup in the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • High-density lipoprotein or HDL is often known as "good cholesterol" because it works like a cleanup crew in the bloodstream. It ferries excess cholesterol from the tissues back to the liver, where it is broken down. Higher HDL levels are good for the heart.

Your body also has other types of cholesterol in small amounts.

Your healthcare professional can measure your total cholesterol level, as well as individual types.

High cholesterol is defined as a total cholesterol level above 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), The target level for a healthy adult is below 200 mg/dL. It's much more common to have high levels than it is to have very low levels.

Experts recommend that healthy adults with no known history of high cholesterol have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years. You may need to have it checked more often if you are older than 65 or have certain health conditions.

A high total cholesterol level or a high LDL level means a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, responsible for one out of every four deaths. Nearly 659,000 people die of heart disease each year.

Diagnosis

A lipid profile test measures several types of cholesterol. The simplest is total cholesterol, which includes the combined levels of LDL, HDL, and other types such as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL).

The lipid profile also gives a detailed breakdown of cholesterol levels by lipid (fat) type: LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Triglycerides are the main type of fat that circulates in your blood. High levels of triglycerides are linked to health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

According to current guidelines, target levels are:

  • LDL: Levels below 100 mg/dL for most adults, though levels above 70 mg/dL may be too high for people with diabetes, a prior history of heart disease, or high risk of heart disease
  • HDL: Levels above 40 mg/dL for males, levels above 50 mg/dL for females
  • Triglycerides: Levels below 150 mg/dL

If you've already had a lipid test and you're not sure what the numbers mean, you can use our lipid test analyzer. Type your test results into the tool below. It can help you understand what your levels may mean for your health, so you can follow up with your healthcare professional if needed.

Causes

Your genes, your diet, and how much you exercise can all influence your cholesterol levels.

  • Diet: High-fat, processed foods can raise your LDL levels. So can obesity. Excess body fat can increase the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
  • Lack of exercise: Not getting enough physical activity can raise your LDL level. It can also cause your HDL level to be too low.
  • Genetics: Sometimes the way your body naturally processes fat and cholesterol can cause your levels to be unhealthy.
  • Age: Males over 45 years of age and females over 55 years of age often have high cholesterol levels because the body doesn't process cholesterol as well as you get older.

Before menopause, females have added protection from estrogen, an advantage that decreases after menopause, leading to the potential for higher cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol can harm young people, too. Researchers have found that fatty plaques of cholesterol can begin forming before adulthood. They can take up space in your blood vessels. When blood vessels are too narrow, you're at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

(Video) I Have High Cholesterol.. What Should I Do?

About 1 in every 200-500 people have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. This genetic condition can boost cholesterol levels to twice the normal level or even higher.

Treatment

Bringing your cholesterol level into a healthy range is important for heart health. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, high total cholesterol levels are especially dangerous for people who smoke or have a family history of heart disease.

High cholesterol can also make some health conditions worse, including:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

In most cases, changes in diet and increased exercise are the first steps for lowering high cholesterol levels. Health experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Other strategies include avoiding foods high in saturated fats and maintaining a healthy weight.

Diet

Roughly 80% of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver and intestines. The rest comes from your diet. It's important to avoid fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates if you have high cholesterol, such as:

  • Fatty meats, particularly red meat
  • Whole-fat dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • White bread
  • White potatoes
  • White rice
  • Highly processed sugars or flours

Foods proven to reduce cholesterol, on the other hand, include:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon
  • Walnuts and other nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Soluble fibers such as psyllium
  • Foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols

Foods You Should Be Eating to Boost HDL and Lower LDL Cholesterol

Medications

If lifestyle changes don't lower your levels enough, your healthcare provider may prescribe a type of drug called statins. They help reduce LDL and triglyceride levels and increase HDL levels.

Statins are the most widely prescribed class of cholesterol-lowering drugs. They limit the liver's ability to make cholesterol.

These are examples of statin medications:

  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Zocor (simvastatin)
  • Mevacor (lovastatin)
  • Lescol (fluvastatin)
  • Crestor (rosuvastatin)
  • Pravachol (pravastatin)

In addition to statins, some people with high cholesterol are also prescribed other cholesterol-lowering medications such as PCSK9 inhibitors like Praluent (alirocumab), Repatha (evolocumab), and Leqvio (inclisiran); fibrates such as Antara (fenofibrate) and Lopid (gemfibrozil); or bile acid sequestrants like Welchol (colesevelam) and Colestid (colestipol).

The Benefits and Risks of Cholesterol Medication

Summary

Your body needs cholesterol to carry out important functions. But if your total or LDL cholesterol levels are too high, you're at risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

A blood test can tell you how high your levels are. Aim for an LDL level under 100 mg/dL and an HDL level 40 mg/dL or higher. Your triglyceride level should be under 150 mg/dL.

If your test shows that you need to bring these numbers down, try to get 150 minutes of exercise each week. You can also try cutting out high-fat, highly processed foods. Your healthcare provider may recommend medication if these steps aren't effective enough.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a high cholesterol level?

    A total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL or above is high. A normal cholesterol level is under 200 mg/dL. Between 200 mg/dL and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high.

  • How can you lower cholesterol levels naturally?

    Dietary changes can help you to lower high cholesterol naturally. Limit the amount of saturated fat and trans fat that you eat. Add in more foods that help lower cholesterol, such as oatmeal, fatty fish, nuts,avocados, and olive oil.

    Supplements that may help lower high cholesterol include berberine, fish oil, ground flaxseed, garlic, green tea extract, niacin, and plant stanols and sterols.

  • What type of medications lower cholesterol?

    Statins are the first-line medications used to lower cholesterol levels. They work by lowering LDL and triglyceride levels while also raising HDL levels. Common statins you may be prescribed for treating high cholesterol include Lipitor, Zocor, or Crestor.

    If statins alone are not lowering your LDL level enough, you may want to ask your healthcare provider about an injectable treatment called Leqvio (inclisiran), which has been approved as an adjunct therapy.

  • What are the side effects of statin drugs?

    Statins can cause several uncomfortable side effects. Myalgia is the most common side effect, better known as muscle aches and pains. Statins can also cause altered liver enzymes and increase the risk of diabetes in some people.

    If you take a statin and experience side effects, ask your doctor if switching to a different statin may help. People who experience side effects on one type of statin may not have side effects on a different one.

    (Video) High Cholesterol - Do I Need To Take Medication?

14 Sources

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Academy of Family Physicians. High cholesterol.

  2. MedlinePlus. High blood cholesterol levels.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heart disease facts.

  4. MedlinePlus. Cholesterol levels: what you need to know.

  5. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Overweight and obesity.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. LDL cholesterol and heart health.

  7. Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation. Surprising familial hypercholesterolemia statistics.

  8. American Heart Association. Lifestyle changes for heart attack prevention.

  9. Harvard Health Publishing. How it's made: cholesterol production in the body.

  10. Harvard Health Publishing. 11 foods that lower cholesterol.

  11. American Heart Association. Cholesterol medications.

  12. Mayo Clinic. Cholesterol-lowering supplements may be helpful.

  13. Novartis. FDA approves Novartis Leqvio (inclisiran), first-in-class siRNA to lower cholesterol and keep it low with two doses a year.

  14. Ramkumar S, Raghunath A, Raghunath S. Statin therapy: review of safety and potential side effects. Acta Cardiol Sin. 2016;32(6):631-639. doi:10.6515/acs20160611a

Additional Reading

(Video) Bart Kay on Why You SHOULD Be Concerned About High Cholesterol (IT'S NOT WHY YOU THINK!)

FAQs

Why should you be concerned about cholesterol? ›

Too much cholesterol in your body means that you have an increased risk of getting cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, the cholesterol can build up inside the walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart.

When should I be concerned about cholesterol? ›

The borderline high range is 170–199 mg/dl, and a reading of 200 mg/dl or over is high. LDL cholesterol levels should be under 110 mg/dl. The borderline high range is 110–129 mg/dl, and any reading over 130 mg/dl is high.

Why do I have high cholesterol when I'm healthy? ›

Why is my cholesterol high if I eat healthy and exercise? Even if you eat right and exercise, you can still have high cholesterol if you have inherited a genetic form of high cholesterol from your parents called familial hypercholesterolemia.

Is high cholesterol really a concern? ›

Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits grow, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries.

How do you feel when you have high cholesterol? ›

With this heart condition, excess LDL builds up as plaque in your heart's small arteries, causing them to narrow and stiffen. This reduces blood flow, which can make you feel tired or short of breath and cause chest pain, notes the NHLBI.

Can you be healthy with high cholesterol? ›

We all need some cholesterol in our blood to stay healthy, but too much can lead to serious health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. Anyone can have high cholesterol, even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise. That's because high cholesterol can be caused by different things, including your genes.

What is normal cholesterol level by age? ›

What are normal levels of cholesterol?
Age and sexTotal cholesterolHDL cholesterol
Age and sexTotal cholesterolHDL cholesterol
People aged 19 years and youngerTotal cholesterolLess than 120 mg/dL
Men aged 20 years and olderTotal cholesterolLess than 130 mg/dL
Women aged 20 years and olderTotal cholesterolLess than 130 mg/dL
Jul 31, 2020

Does stress cause high cholesterol? ›

Constant stress is another story. If it's nonstop and lasts for a long time, your stress hormones remain at high levels and put a dangerous strain on your heart and other parts of your body. High levels of cortisol from chronic or long-term stress can cause high blood cholesterol, along with other heart disease risks.

Does exercise improve cholesterol? ›

Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol. With your doctor's OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.

Can you live long with high cholesterol? ›

Many people who have high cholesterol die from complications of heart disease before reaching an advanced age. Those who live into their 70s or 80s despite high cholesterol might have other factors that increased their longevity.

Does exercise Lower cholesterol? ›

How does exercise improve cholesterol levels? Exercise works to eliminate the dangerous, fatty LDL cholesterol by increasing HDL cholesterol. Losing weight also increases HDL.

What happens if you ignore high cholesterol? ›

When the buildup of plaque, which can be due to high cholesterol, prevents the healthy circulation of blood in your arms and legs, you may develop peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease can result in sores that won't heal, infections, and tissue death, which can necessitate amputation.

Does fasting raise cholesterol? ›

Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol. It's also thought that fasting can improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.

Who is most at risk for high cholesterol? ›

Unhealthy levels of cholesterol can affect people of all ages, even young children. However, high cholesterol is most commonly diagnosed in people between ages 40 and 59. As you get older, your body's metabolism changes. Your liver does not remove “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as it did when you were young.

Does cholesterol cause leg pain? ›

When the arteries of your legs are clogged, a sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood does not reach your lower part. It can make your leg feel heavy and tired. Most people with high cholesterol levels complain about burning pain in the lower limbs. One may feel pain in any part of the leg like thighs or calves.

Can high cholesterol make your joints hurt? ›

In a world-first study, a research team at The Prince Charles Hospital have discovered a link between high cholesterol levels and joint damage (arthritis).

Do high cholesterol make you dizzy? ›

“Say you have plaque buildup or cholesterol in your carotid arteries and not enough blood flow, or if you have narrowing of certain heart valves, or if you have arrhythmias,” Dr. Laffin says, “these can lead to what some people would call dizziness, but is probably more appropriately termed lightheadedness.”

Does sugar raise cholesterol? ›

When you eat too much sugar, your liver makes more LDL while lowering the amount of HDL in your body. The extra calories from a sugary diet also leads to more of something called triglycerides, a type of blood fat that plays a role in your cholesterol health.

What medications can cause high cholesterol? ›

Summary. There are many drugs that can affect your cholesterol levels. Some can raise your "bad" LDL cholesterol, decrease your "good" HDL cholesterol, or both. These include medications like beta blockers, prednisone, amiodarone, cyclosporine, anabolic steroids, HIV protease inhibitors, and diuretics.

What is normal cholesterol for a 70 year old? ›

40 – 49 mg/dL for men and 50 – 59 mg/dL for women is better. 60 mg/dL and higher is best.

What is a good cholesterol level for a 70 year old woman? ›

A normal total cholesterol level for adults without heart disease is less than 200 mg/dL.

Can lack of sleep cause high cholesterol? ›

Too Little Sleep

Sleep deprivation or staying up all night may make cholesterol levels go up, too. In one study, sleep-deprived mice had higher blood cholesterol and more cholesterol buildup in their livers.

What can cause a sudden spike in cholesterol? ›

What causes high cholesterol?
  • an unhealthy diet – in particular, eating high levels of saturated fat.
  • smoking – a chemical called acrolin, found in cigarettes, stops HDL transporting cholesterol from fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
May 9, 2022

How quickly can cholesterol change? ›

Cholesterol-lowering drugs usually produce a change in LDL within 6 to 8 weeks. It is possible for lifestyle changes to change cholesterol levels within weeks. However, it may take longer, usually about 3 months — sometimes more.

Does walking reduce cholesterol? ›

1. Walking raises your “good” cholesterol and lowers your “bad” cholesterol. A brisk 30-minute walk three times per week is enough to raise your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) a few points. This amount of exercise, even without weight loss, is shown to improve your cholesterol levels.

What is the fastest way to get rid of cholesterol? ›

How To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly
  1. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. ...
  2. Be mindful of fat intake. ...
  3. Eat more plant sources of protein. ...
  4. Eat fewer refined grains, such as white flour. ...
  5. Get moving.
Apr 21, 2022

Do eggs raise cholesterol? ›

Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D. Chicken eggs are an affordable source of protein and other nutrients. They're also naturally high in cholesterol. But the cholesterol in eggs doesn't seem to raise cholesterol levels the way some other foods, such as those high in trans fats and saturated fats, do.

What is the death rate for high cholesterol? ›

Overall, raised cholesterol is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths (4.5% of total) and 29.7 million DALYS, or 2% of total DALYS. Raised total cholesterol is a major cause of disease burden in both the developed and developing world as a risk factor for ischemic heart disease and stroke.

Can you eat chicken with high cholesterol? ›

If you have high cholesterol, you should talk with your doctor about what you eat, including meat. There are good, lean choices. For example, you can consider chicken or turkey breasts without skin; pork tenderloin; or beef round, sirloin, or tenderloin. Avoid highly processed meats (bacon, ham, lunchmeat, etc.).

How can I check my cholesterol at home? ›

To use a cholesterol home test kit, you first prick your finger with the lancet. Next, you place the blood droplet on the test strip. The cholesterol home test strip has special chemicals that change colors after a few minutes. You then match the final color against a color guide that's included with the kit.

Does bread raise cholesterol? ›

Food items made from refined grains or flour (maida) contain refined carbohydrates, which may have a negative effect on your good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Avoid consuming products like white bread or pasta.

Can you be healthy with high cholesterol? ›

We all need some cholesterol in our blood to stay healthy, but too much can lead to serious health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. Anyone can have high cholesterol, even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise. That's because high cholesterol can be caused by different things, including your genes.

Should I care about cholesterol? ›

It's not only a major signpost for your overall health, but it can lead to heart attack or stroke. Dr. Tom Miller from University of Utah Health explains what cholesterol is, breaks down the numbers, and tells you why it matters to your and your loved ones' health.

What foods cause high cholesterol? ›

Unhealthy fats
  • processed or deli-style meats (such as ham, bacon and salami)
  • deep fried fast foods.
  • processed foods (such as biscuits and pastries)
  • takeaway foods (such as hamburgers and pizza)
  • fat on meat and skin on chicken.
  • ghee, lard and copha.
  • coconut oil.

Can emotional stress cause high cholesterol? ›

Is stress linked to high cholesterol? The short is yes. Feeling under pressure for a long time can raise your risk of high cholesterol and even heart disease. But you can take steps to get your stress under control and protect your heart.

Can you live long with high cholesterol? ›

Many people who have high cholesterol die from complications of heart disease before reaching an advanced age. Those who live into their 70s or 80s despite high cholesterol might have other factors that increased their longevity.

Does fasting raise cholesterol? ›

Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol. It's also thought that fasting can improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.

Do eggs raise cholesterol? ›

Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D. Chicken eggs are an affordable source of protein and other nutrients. They're also naturally high in cholesterol. But the cholesterol in eggs doesn't seem to raise cholesterol levels the way some other foods, such as those high in trans fats and saturated fats, do.

Can I eat eggs with high cholesterol? ›

People with raised cholesterol often wonder if it's OK to eat eggs, as egg yolk is rich in cholesterol. Generally speaking, it should be fine for most people, as the cholesterol in eggs does not have a significant effect on blood cholesterol. It's much more important to limit the amount of saturated fat you eat.

Does exercise Lower cholesterol? ›

How does exercise improve cholesterol levels? Exercise works to eliminate the dangerous, fatty LDL cholesterol by increasing HDL cholesterol. Losing weight also increases HDL.

What is the new truth about cholesterol? ›

A new class of drugs can dramatically lower your LDL cholesterol. PSCK9 inhibitors are introducing a new era in treating high cholesterol, especially the kind that's genetically inherited. Treatment with PSCK9 inhibitors can cut LDL levels by 50% or more.

Which cholesterol number is most important? ›

LDL is the number most doctors and heart health programs focus on in particular, says Mosca. "Every single point of LDL decrease makes a difference," she says. "If your LDL is at 140 and you get it down to 130, that's great, even if you haven't reached optimum levels yet."

How long before high cholesterol does damage? ›

“It adds up over time, which may mean a heart attack or stroke in your 50s or 60s.” The longer you have high cholesterol, the more likely you are to develop heart disease. In one study, people who had high levels for 11 years or more had double the risk than those who had them for 10 years or less.

Are bananas good for cholesterol? ›

Fruits like avocados and apples, and citrus fruits like oranges and bananas can help lower cholesterol.

What should I eat for breakfast if I have high cholesterol? ›

Start Your Day Right: 8 Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Lower Your Cholesterol
  • Oatmeal. A 44-gram serving of steel-cut oaks packs 4 grams of dietary fiber. ...
  • Almond milk. ...
  • Avocado toast. ...
  • Egg white scramble with spinach. ...
  • Orange juice. ...
  • Whey protein smoothie. ...
  • Smoked salmon. ...
  • Apple bran muffins.

Whether it's your diet, genetics, or both, high cholesterol can increase your risk of a serious condition like a heart attack or stroke.

Having high cholesterol levels can increase your risk of a heart attack , stroke, and other conditions.. The term high cholesterol usually refers to the amount of cholesterol being carried in the blood by low-density lipoprotein, or LDL (often called "bad cholesterol").. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol increases your risk of atherosclerosis, where deposits of cholesterol, calcium and white blood cells produce plaques in the walls of arteries.. While the liver makes cholesterol in your body, it also recycles and removes cholesterol from the body.. On top of this, smoking can lead to the destruction of "good" cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, which helps break down bad cholesterol and balance out levels in your body.. Other conditions: There are a number of conditions like high blood pressure , diabetes, and thyroid disorders that can contribute to high cholesterol.. A diet high in saturated fats and animal products is a significant contributor to high cholesterol.. However, the complications that high cholesterol causes do.. Atherosclerosis , which is a buildup of fatty deposits in your blood vessels Carotid artery disease, which is narrowing of the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain Coronary heart disease, which is damage or disease in the heart's major blood vessels Heart attack Peripheral artery disease, which is narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs Stroke. High cholesterol on its own doesn't cause symptoms, but complications like atherosclerosis and heart disease do.. A lipid panel usually measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.. During your physical exam, your doctor will check for signs of very high blood cholesterol, such as xanthomas, or signs of other health conditions that can cause high blood cholesterol.. All medications can cause side effects , including medications to lower your cholesterol, and many people can successfully lower their cholesterol without them.. Untreated high cholesterol can lead to a number of serious complications, including heart attack and stroke.. Even if you eat right and exercise, you can still have high cholesterol if you have inherited a genetic form of high cholesterol from your parents called familial hypercholesterolemia.

Whether it's your diet, genetics, or both, high cholesterol can increase your risk of a serious condition like a heart attack or stroke.

In this article, we'll discuss the causes and treatments for high cholesterol and how you can lower your risk of developing it.. Genetics: Certain conditions can increase cholesterol levels in your body.. Symptoms of these complications can include:. High cholesterol on its own doesn't cause symptoms, but complications like atherosclerosis and heart disease do.. Lifestyle changes that can help lower your cholesterol include:. Blood cholesterol .

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.. Your doctor might also suggest more-frequent tests if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.. Having a high triglyceride level also can increase your risk of heart disease.. Factors you can control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to harmful cholesterol and triglyceride levels.. Rosenson RS, et al. Management of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

If you’re following a heart-healthy diet and still have high cholesterol, there are many possible reasons. Find out how to effectively manage high cholesterol.

If you’re one of the 94 million American adults living with high cholesterol, you’ve no doubt heard how important it is to follow lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet and exercise.. Doing so can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides , a form of fat that’s in the blood, as well as help raise high-density lipoprotein ( HDL , or “good”) cholesterol levels.. “If you’re someone who has a relatively healthy lifestyle and your cholesterol levels are high — if you have an LDL greater than 160 — you probably have some genetic component that leads to high cholesterol,” says Raj Khandwalla, MD , cardiologist and director of digital therapeutics at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.. Once you receive a diagnosis of high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe a statin, a type of medication that blocks a substance your body uses to make cholesterol.. “ Statins help lower LDL cholesterol , which reduces the risk of stroke or death from a heart attack,” Dr. Khandwalla says.. Khandwalla emphasizes that people who have high cholesterol should avoid the keto diet , a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet touted for weight loss.. “The most effective diets to lower cholesterol are a plant-based diet or vegan diet in which you decrease your dietary intake of cholesterol,” says Khandwalla.. A study published in February 2020 in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people with high cholesterol tended to gain more weight and exercise less once they were prescribed statins.. Although statins and other cholesterol-lowering medications are highly effective, they aren’t meant to be the only way you manage high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is good for you; it performs so many vital functions in your body. Inflammation raises your risk of just about every serious disease, including heart attacks and strokes. If you want to look after your health, you’d better keep inflammation at bay! Each week we see a number of patients who are seeking help for their high cholesterol level. They can quote the cholesterol figure in their last blood test and desperately want to lower it without the use of medication. Many of our patients have tried cholesterol lowering drugs in the past and weren’t happy with the side effects. They are even more worried about the potential long term effects of these drugs on brain function and the nervous system.

If you don’t eat much fat you’re also more likely to experience sugar and carbohydrate cravings, thus eating foods that your own liver converts into fat, leading to weight gain and elevated cholesterol.. There are two main types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.. Chronic inflammation occurs when various cells in your body produce chemicals that cause wear and tear inside your body.. The following factors all raise the level of inflammation in your body:. Having a fatty liver causes the liver to produce high levels of damaging inflammatory chemicals.. That’s when a blood sugar balancing supplement can really help.. We do need some cholesterol in our bodies for good health; you don’t want your cholesterol to be too low but you don’t want it too high either.

Should you worry if your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol?

In my practice, most of my clients who’ve been told they have elevated cholesterol levels assume they’re at a higher risk for heart disease and are scared.. If you’ve had your lipids checked and your doctor recommends a cholesterol-lowering drug, such as a statin, it’s typically because your total cholesterol is over 200, or your LDL (known as the “bad” cholesterol) is over 140mg/dL.. Standard recs from the American Heart Association tell you your total cholesterol shouldn’t be over 200 for disease prevention, but what they don’t tell you is that your total cholesterol is fairly meaningless for predicting disease risk (unless it’s very high, over 300 mg/dL).. Guidelines on cholesterol are beginning to change, and we now know that high cholesterol over 200 (Again, over 300 may indicate inherited hypercholesterolemia or excessive inflammation) may not be an accurate predictor of heart disease.. Elevated cholesterol is a symptom , and preventing heart disease isn’t as simple as forcibly lowering cholesterol levels with a drug.. He concluded that cholesterol didn’t cause heart disease: “I was doing angiograms on people with (cholesterol levels of) 150, who had far advanced heart disease,” he recalled.. In one well-designed study (the Minnesota Coronary Experiment) , participants who ate a “heart healthy diet” low in saturated fat and higher in unsaturated fats (primarily from corn oil and vegetable oils) had an increased mortality rate over those who ate more saturated fat.. Statins forcibly lower cholesterol levels without addressing the root of what’s causing higher cholesterol.. Causes of Higher Cholesterol Numbers (elevated total cholesterol over 250 and LDL over 150). congested liver and gall bladder: check bilirubin, AST, & ALT levels on blood work hypothyroidism: check for elevated TSH over 2.5 or low free T3, T4 too much sugar, alcohol, refined carbs, high glycemic foods in the diet inflammatory foods such as refined vegetable oils, conventionally raised red meat & dairy systemic inflammation carrying excess weight genetics, especially if levels very high, over 300.. You can easily optimize your lipid levels by raising cardio-protective HDL and lowering LDL and trigs by reducing your consumption of sugar and refined carbs like flour, bread, pasta, soda, alcohol, crackers, baked goods, and cereals .. Too much sugar causes inflammation, and we know that sugar is a greater contributing factor to heart disease than fat, because excess sugar converts to fat, raising your trig levels and lowering HDL.. But if you’re eating a diet that’s generally too high in fat for your body’s needs, you may also have higher cholesterol levels.. Reduce refined carbs, eat lower on the glycemic index, and if you eat a higher carb diet in general, know that high carb diets negatively influence lipid levels and are pro-inflammatory.

We are filled with fear and anxiety when we hear the words ‘high cholesterol’ as for the past few decades, researchers and doctors have claimed that it is the cause of heart disease.

Whereas if you eat less fats, your body will try to keep the blood cholesterol at a healthy level by producing more.. Researchers found evidence that stress hormones can mobilise cholesterol from the body and bring it into the blood to increase LDL cholesterol levels.. Therefore, you will have a higher reading of LDL levels.. Your total cholesterol reading comprises of Triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.. The total levels of cholesterol are influenced by your metabolic rate.. Elevated cholesterol is also a result of stress, nutrients deficiency, diet high in refined sugar or hydrogenated fats.. Elevated HDL is an indication of a healthy metabolic system if there is no sign of liver disease.. It is important to remember that your cholesterol reading in your blood test report is not a good indicator for your risk of heart disease.. High cholesterol is not a strong risk factor for coronary heart disease.. So, heart disease and death cannot just be associated with high cholesterol, they could also be due to low cholesterol.. True wellness doesn't rely on the statistics or any numbers on a piece of paper.. Understanding the reason behind your elevated or decreased cholesterol levels is the key to health.. Kannel, WB, Gordon T. The Framingham diet study: diet and the regulation of serum cholesterol.. Fat and Cholesterol are Good for you.

If you’ve ever had a blood test, it’s highly likely your doctor has checked your cholesterol level. Although we believe cholesterol is over rated, it is useful to know your blood level of this fat. Cholesterol is a very important substance in your body. In fact, every cell of your body requires cholesterol to survive. Elevated cholesterol can be a risk factor for heart disease, but it is only one of many risk factors. Rather than rushing to take a drug or natural substance that lowers cholesterol, why not consider why your cholesterol is elevated in the first place?

This is the most common reason why you may have elevated cholesterol levels.. Any excess calories we consume can be converted into cholesterol and triglycerides in your liver, therefore if you eat too much and become overweight, you raise your risk of heart disease.. One reason for this is because we are constantly told to reduce our fat intake; we must eat something else to replace fat, and usually this means eating more carbohydrate.. Instead it is converted into body fat.. Many people go on a low fat, high carbohydrate diet when trying to lower their cholesterol.. The vegetable oil you buy in the supermarket to cook with has usually been through a number of processes that have damaged the beneficial fats once present in the oils, and produced some toxic substances.. The best kind of fiber for lowering cholesterol is soluble fiber.. This is good for reducing your risk of Syndrome X or diabetes, both major risk factors for heart disease.. People with syndrome X are twice as likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than the general population.. People with syndrome X have elevated blood insulin levels and insulin stimulates the liver to make cholesterol.. Our genes affect how high our LDL cholesterol is because they determine how fast LDL is made and removed from the blood.. When the thyroid cannot produce enough T4 and T3 hormones, metabolism slows down; consequently the ability to process cholesterol is also impaired.. Studies have shown that chronic stress raises the risk of heart disease.. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol are related to high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance.. Smoking is a well known major risk factor for heart disease, and several other diseases.

Many women are at risk for high cholesterol. A Johns Hopkins cardiologist offers tips to better understand cholesterol and its effects.

What’s more, many women are at risk for high cholesterol and don’t realize it.. This is a problem because women’s cholesterol levels can fluctuate quite a bit after menopause and tend to increase with age, putting us at greater risk of heart disease and stroke.. But what is cholesterol, anyway?. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the body’s arteries.. LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for “low-density lipoprotein.” This is known as the “bad” cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries.. Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.. In addition to cholesterol, you might hear about your triglycerides, another kind of fat found in the bloodstream.. Drinking a lot of alcohol and eating foods containing simple carbohydrates (sugary and starchy foods), saturated fats and trans fats contributes to high triglycerides.. Many people with high triglycerides have other risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high LDL levels or low HDL levels, or abnormal blood sugar (glucose) levels.. Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl.. If you already have vascular disease or evidence of atherosclerosis, or if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, a statin for prevention is strongly recommended because this treats the plaque in the arteries, and lowers LDL cholesterol, Michos says.. Diet and lifestyle: “Diet and lifestyle are very important to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.. “With regular checkups and attention to what you eat, it’s possible to manage your cholesterol and blood fats to keep your heart healthy,” says Michos.

When should you start getting screened for high cholesterol? Is it always possible to manage high cholesterol with diet and exercise alone? Learn the answers to these questions and more.

Most people with high cholesterol don’t have any symptoms.. Too much LDL can build up in the arteries, creating plaque and restricting blood flow.. Lowering LDL reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.. High HDL levels can reduce the risk of stroke.. Common cholesterol medications like statins reduce the amount of cholesterol your liver makes.. Cholesterol is just one factor in an assessment of heart health.. Foods that are high in cholesterol are also often high in saturated fat.. The American Heart Association advises the following test schedule for people who don’t have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors for the condition:. High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and its complications, including stroke and heart attack.. Your cholesterol levels are just one factor your doctor will use to create a personalized risk assessment and management plan for cardiovascular disease.

Should I worry about high cholesterol? I break down all you need to know about cholesterol. Should you be anxious about your cholesterol numbers or not

One of them is cholesterol.. On the flipside, people with life long very low cholesterol levels hardly develop plaques in their arteries leading to heart attack and strokes.. The predictive value of LDL cholesterol giving a heart attack or stroke is poor unless you break it down to small or large particle.. The reason some people with normal Total cholesterol and normal LDL cholesterol numbers end up having a heart attack is because of the their small particle dense cholesterol concentration.. High Triglycerides levels in your blood correlates with a high Small particle dense LDL cholesterol.. Remember LDL cholesterol number is just the total concentration of cholesterol in the LDL.

The American Heart Association  addresses common misconceptions regarding cholesterol levels.

How much do you know about cholesterol?. Children who have this genetic disorder are at very high risk of heart disease.. Regardless of their risk, all children benefit from a healthy diet and lifestyle.. Establishing healthy eating and physical activity habits early can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems over time.. Have your cholesterol checked regularly regardless of your weight, physical activity and diet.. But cholesterol levels can still rise in postmenopausal women, despite a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity.. So women nearing menopause should have their cholesterol levels checked and talk with their doctor about their risk factors and treatment options.. Starting at age 20, ask your doctor to test your cholesterol, assess your factors and estimate your risk for a heart attack or stroke.. Diet and physical activity do affect overall blood cholesterol levels, but so do other factors.. So, a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity are important to everyone for maintaining cardiovascular health.. Medications can help control cholesterol levels, but making diet and lifestyle changes are the best way to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.. Many foods marketed as “low-cholesterol” have high levels of saturated or trans fats, both of which raise blood cholesterol.. Butter is high in saturated fat and has some trans fat – raising LDL (bad) cholesterol and contributing to atherosclerosis.. Look for margarines that say 0 g trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label.. What is Cholesterol?

Most of us know having high cholesterol is generally a bad thing. But what exactly is cholesterol? It’s not only a major signpost for your overall health, but it can lead to heart attack or stroke. Dr. Tom Miller from University of Utah Health explains what cholesterol is, breaks down the numbers, and tells you why it matters to your and your loved ones’ health.

Interviewer: You go to your doctor, they say your cholesterol is too high.. There are two or three of those numbers, and my doctor my tells me, "Oh, your cholesterol doesn't look good.". Interviewer: So you want lots of that HDL to help your body dispose off that stuff.. Dr. Miller: Yes, high HDL is better.. Dr. Miller: And you know how you get high HDL?. I have low blood pressure and I don't have other risk factors," or, "Warning, I've got to do some other things to improve my health.". Dr. Miller: That could be one thing he says . . .. Interviewer: Exercise.. Dr. Miller: Right, and you would say those things anyway, right?. Interviewer: You could do all the right things and still . . .. Dr. Miller: And we don't have a pill to make you exercise.

As science once again turns its back on butter, we bust the scary cholesterol myth

Cut your numbers, stay alive – that has been the prevailing message.. It is the substance that surrounds your cell walls to keep the important stuff in; that your body converts to vitamin D and steroid hormones; that you actually need in great quantities just to stay alive.. Recent research into the link between inflammation and heart disease has taken the spotlight off of cholesterol and placed it firmly in the direction of sugar.. But what causes that damage in the first place?. Saturated fat can still make you fat.. Even so, it’s time men started to know their onions when it comes to food advertising.. If you’re truly worried about the health of your heart, the buzzword to keep in mind is inflammation, not cholesterol.. A recent review from the Baylor University Medical Center found that while low-fat diets might cut overall cholesterol levels, they often hit the HDL count more than LDL, shifting your percentage the wrong way even by definition of the cholesterol police [2] .. But it's revolutionary in a world where half the population is recommended drugs to counteract a disease they may never get.. A Dutch study found that high-saturated fat diets increase cholesterol levels but not cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.. According to the research, eating less of it has little impact heart disease, but dropping high-GI carb intake does.

High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart attacks and coronary heart disease, because it builds up in the arteries, narrowing them. It does not usually have any symptoms, and many people do not know they have it. We look at healthy levels and ranges of cholesterol, at ways to prevent it, and medications to treat it.

160–189 mg/dL is high.. A reading of less than 40 mg/dL can be a major risk factor for heart disease.. People who wish to reduce their cholesterol levels or maintain a suitable level can make four major lifestyle decisions.. For a person with high cholesterol levels, drug treatment will depend on their cholesterol level and other risk factors.. For those at very high risk, the guidelines also recommend adding a PCSK9 inhibitor.

Videos

1. Cholesterol - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options
(Rehealthify)
2. What causes high cholesterol?
(Living Better)
3. The Link Between Stress and High Cholesterol
(Wall Street Journal)
4. Dr. Berg's Wife Has Crazy High Cholesterol of 261..
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
5. How To Reduce Cholesterol Levels
(NDTV)
6. Your Doctor Thinks You Have High Cholesterol: Here's What to Do
(Thomas DeLauer)

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