What is high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like material that provides structure for a body’s cells. A person’s liver makes most of the cholesterol a body needs, but a person can also get some from foods. Too much can cause a sticky substance (plaque) to build up in blood vessels. This plaque can block blood vessels and cause heart attacks and strokes.
But I feel okay.
Most people with high cholesterol feel healthy and don’t have symptoms. The only way to levels are high is to have cholesterol levels checked.
Cholesterol is checked with a blood test. The test works best if you don’t eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before the test.
What do your numbers mean?
Your total cholesterol is made up of two types of cholesterol:
- LDL (low-density lipoproteins)
- HDL (high-density lipoproteins).
High levels of LDL increase a person’s chances of heart disease. It is the “bad cholesterol.” High levels of HDL decrease a person’s chances of heart disease. It is the “good cholesterol.”
What can you do?
Follow a healthy eating plan.
- Read food labels and limit foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and whole grains.
- Ask to see a registered dietitian if you need help with a plan.
Be physically active.
- “Physical activity” includes any activity that raises a person’s heart rate, such as brisk walking, working in the house or yard, or playing sports.
- Do activity for 10 minutes or more at a time. Aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of activity each week.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
If a person is overweight, ask a provider for help with an eating and physical activity plan to lose weight
A provider may prescribe medicine to help lower cholesterol. People should take the medicine every day, or as directed by a provider. If cholesterol numbers get lower, it’s because the medicine is working. Don’t stop it or take a lower dose unless a provider says so.
For more information, contact a local VA Medical Center or Health Clinic.