High Cholesterol

There's a lot of news about cholesterol these days, and with good reason. High cholesterol can contribute to heart disease, which kills more Americans than all cancers combined.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that your body – mainly the liver – produces. Cholesterol is used to make some hormones, vitamin D and bile acids, which help to digest fat. Cholesterol also is used to build healthy cell membranes in the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, liver, intestines and heart. It only takes a small amount of cholesterol to meet all these needs. Your body makes enough. You don't need or want additional cholesterol in your diet.

Why is a high cholesterol level unhealthy?

Cholesterol causes a problem only when you have too much of it in your blood. Excess cholesterol is deposited in the lining of the arteries, including the arteries that feed your heart muscle. This narrows the area inside the artery through which blood flows. High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. Your physician can order a simple blood test to determine your cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol - Know Your Numbers

Cholesterol is a household word, synonymous with coronary artery disease. But a growing body of research shows that this fat-like substance in your blood is just the tip of the iceberg.

Scientists have learned that other substances may give you and your doctor new clues about your heart disease risk. And that's good news. Coronary heart disease, in which fatty deposits build up in your arteries, is the nation's top killer.

Facts About Cholesterol

  • Only about 25% of cholesterol comes from the foods you eat, 75% is made by the body
  • About 80% of people who have had a heart attack have high cholesterol
  • Factors such as age and family history affect how much cholesterol your body makes
  • People with high cholesterol usually do not have symptoms. It’s best to visit your general physician or cardiologist to check your cholesterol numbers