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Getting to know your cholesterol basics
Cholesterol is essential for many processes in the body; however, too much cholesterol is not good and can build up in your arteries, which may lead to a heart attack or stroke. Understanding the role cholesterol plays in your heart health can help you make smart decisions when trying to manage your cholesterol. For some people, modifying their diet and increasing their physical activity may not be enough to lower cholesterol levels. If this is the case for you, your doctor may also recommend taking a statin, like LIVALO.
Cholesterol comes from 2 main sources
Some cholesterol is produced by your liver, while other cholesterol comes from the food you eat.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can be found in every cell of the body.
Why is cholesterol important?
Your body makes cholesterol because it keeps cells healthy and it’s needed for absorbing and producing substances the body requires, like bile acids, steroids, hormones, and vitamin D.
How does cholesterol move through your body?
Cholesterol moves through your bloodstream in small particles called lipoproteins.
How is cholesterol measured?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), adults age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor will give you a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. If your doctor also performs a "lipoprotein profile," it will show your cholesterol measurements—or cholesterol numbers—for the different types of cholesterols and lipids in the body. For accurate results, you may have to fast (not eat or drink) for about 9 to 12 hours before the test. Your doctor will determine from your test results if you need to manage your cholesterol and the best way to accomplish that.
What should my cholesterol measurements be?
Since there are different types of cholesterol that will be measured with a cholesterol checkup, there are different numbers that are considered good or ideal, depending on the type of cholesterol. However, your total cholesterol measurement should be less than
|Total Cholesterol Level||Category|
|Less than 200 mg/dL||Desirable or normal|
|200-239 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|240 mg/dL and above||High|
If your total cholesterol number is above 200 mg/dL, you will want to talk to your doctor about how you can get that number lower.
In order to get your total cholesterol number lower, your doctor will also consider the measurements for your other types of cholesterol, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – this is also known as "bad" cholesterol because it is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – this is considered "good" cholesterol because it helps keep LDL (bad) cholesterol from building up in the arteries
- Triglycerides – a different type of fat in your blood
It’s not only your total cholesterol number that matters. Your LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol are also important numbers to consider.