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Getting to know your cholesterol basics

Learn about high 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.

How much cholesterol is a healthy amount for me?

You may think the lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol, the better. And that’s generally true. Your doctor will decide how much you should lower your cholesterol levels, based on your personal risk factors. Those risk factors could include:

Get your cholesterol checked

Work with your doctor to determine what the right cholesterol levels
are for you, and how to manage them for your heart health.

Understanding LDL (bad) cholesterol

There are different types of cholesterol…and high levels of some types can be bad

To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will perform a simple blood test. If your doctor also performs a lipoprotein profile on the blood that is drawn, it will show your cholesterol measurements—or cholesterol numbers—for the different types of cholesterols and lipids in your body.

Your doctor will determine from your test numbers if you need to manage your cholesterol and the best way to accomplish that.

What is LDL, or bad, cholesterol?

Along with a number of other types of cholesterol, a lipoprotein profile will show your levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol itself is necessary for the body to build cells and create hormones. However, if there is too much cholesterol—specifically high levels of LDL cholesterol—the LDL cholesterol can build up in the walls of your arteries and prevent blood from circulating. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. If enough LDL cholesterol builds up and stops the flow of blood to the heart, it can cause a heart attack, or a stroke can result if the flow of blood to the brain is stopped. LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol because of these potentially fatal consequences.

What should my LDL (bad) cholesterol number be?

Since the body needs cholesterol to perform certain essential functions, you need some cholesterol. However, since too much LDL (bad) cholesterol can build up and prevent your blood from flowing properly through your arteries, your doctor will want you to keep your LDL (bad) cholesterol at a certain level. Talk to your doctor about where your LDL levels should be.

What are triglycerides, and how are they different from LDL (bad) cholesterol?

While cholesterol is important for many processes of the body, triglycerides are essential for calorie storage and as an energy source. However, high levels of triglycerides can lead to further production of LDL (bad) cholesterol particles, potentially increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Increased levels of triglycerides are often related to improper diet and lack of exercise; yet, on the other hand, elevated levels may be a sign of other conditions, such as obesity or metabolic syndrome—which is used to describe a group of conditions that include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol levels, and too much fat around the midsection of the body. High triglycerides may also be indicative of type 2 diabetes that is not well controlled, low levels of thyroid hormones, liver disease, kidney disease, or rare genetic disorders that affect how the body converts fats into energy. Certain medications, like birth control pills, beta blockers, diuretics, steroids, and beta blockers, are also associated with elevated triglyceride levels.

Ask your doctor about where your triglyceride levels should be, and how you can manage them for your heart health.

Understanding high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (good) cholesterol

Some cholesterol can be good for you

While elevated levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides can put you at increased risk of heart attack and stroke, there is a type of cholesterol that’s considered good for you. HDL (good) cholesterol is considered beneficial because it helps to keep LDL (bad) cholesterol from building up in the arteries. With less cholesterol circulating through the bloodstream and being deposited on artery walls, the blood is able to flow more freely and reach important organs of the body, including the heart and the brain.

So for your cholesterol numbers, whereas lower levels are being ideal for LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, the reverse is true for HDL (good) cholesterol; the higher your HDL number, the better. Generally, if your HDL (good) cholesterol levels are too low, it can increase your risks of developing heart disease or having a stroke, and higher levels of HDL cholesterol may help lower those risks.

Why are my HDL (good) cholesterol levels low?

Like high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol may sometimes be associated with metabolic syndrome, which is the term used for and associated with certain characteristics, which include obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. A diet high in saturated fats but low in unsaturated fats may also contribute to low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Smoking is also associated with low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

How can I improve my HDL (good) cholesterol count?

As with high triglycerides and elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, modifying your diet and increasing your physical activity—which can both help with losing extra weight—can help improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Beyond just changing your diet to avoid foods high in trans and saturated fats (often found in snacks and junk food), increasing your intake of some kinds of fats—specifically, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in certain nuts, fish, and vegetables—can also help improve your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Besides a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise, if you smoke, quitting smoking can help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Additionally, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol (considered to be up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men) is associated with elevated HDL (good) cholesterol levels. However, it’s a good idea to double check with your doctor regarding moderate alcohol intake and if it may be appropriate for you.


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Terms of Use

These Terms of Use (“Terms”) were last updated on February 6, 2019.

Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. (“Kowa”) maintains the website located at (“Site”) to provide information and education about LIVALO® (pitavastatin). You agree to comply with the Terms in effect at the time of each such access or other use. You also acknowledge that Kowa may, from time to time, in its sole discretion and without notification to you, change these Terms. You should review the Terms each time you visit or use the Site. If you do not agree to these Terms, do not use the Site. As used in these Terms, “we” includes Kowa, each of its affiliates, and any third-party vendors we hire to assist in the administration of the Site, the collection, cataloging and/or analysis of data, and/or the processing or handling of any visitor transactions.

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General Information
For more information about Kowa’s Privacy Policy, please contact us:
Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
530 Industrial Park Boulevard
Montgomery, AL 36117

Privacy Policy

Last updated February 6, 2019

Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. (“Kowa”), respects the privacy of every individual visiting our websites. This Privacy Policy discloses the online information gathering and dissemination practices of Kowa. Please be sure to read this entire Privacy Policy before using or submitting information to this website.

Our Privacy Policy only applies to Kowa-owned and -licensed websites, which include,,,, and any other Kowa product website that links to this Privacy Policy.

Personally Identifiable Information
Kowa may collect personally identifiable information (such as name, address, telephone/fax number, and e-mail address) only when voluntarily provided by a visitor to our websites. This information will not be used for any direct marketing or unsolicited follow-up unless we have previously informed you of this possible use and you have given us your express permission when submitting it. Kowa may use this information for such purposes as:

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  • Delivering goods or prizes

Collection of Browser, Log, and Statistical Information
We may collect and/or track information provided to us by your browser, including the website you came from, the type of browser you use, the time and date of access, and other information that does not personally identify you. In addition, we may gather information about you that is automatically collected by our web server, such as your IP address and domain name.

Kowa may make use of non-personally identifiable statistical information collected from users (browser type, geographical location, age, gender) for optimization of its websites as part of its continual internal review process and in a general way to learn more about its clients. We may use IP addresses to analyze trends, administer the site, track users’ movements, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information. This information will not be disclosed to third parties by Kowa. This data will only be used for the stated purpose and will not be used for any unsolicited communication unless you give us permission.

Kowa may utilize "cookies," web beacons, and other similar technologies on our website. We may use first- and/or third-party "browser" or "HTTP" cookies, which are unique text files that may be used for data analysis and enable our website to tailor information for the visitor. We may use browser cookies for purposes such as to personalize the user's experience on our site, to remember a user when the user registers for products or services, for fraud prevention, or to track visits to our websites. We also may use "web beacons" (also referred to as pixel tags, clear gifs, or other terms) or similar technologies to collect information such as how long a visitor remains on a particular page. If you do not want us to deploy browser cookies to your device when you visit our websites, you may set the browser to reject cookies or to notify the user when a website tries to place cookies in the browser program (see below). Rejecting cookies may affect your ability to use some of the features offered by the website. If you use our website without setting your browser to block cookies, you consent to the placement of cookies on your device.

Third parties, including our service providers or marketing partners, may collect information about a visitor to our site over time and/or across different websites when the visitor uses our website. This information often is aggregate data or individual information that is tied to a browser or device rather than specific identifiers such as the visitor's name and address, but some of this information might be considered to be personally identifiable under some federal or state laws.

Some Internet browsers offer what often is referred to as "do-not-track" mechanisms for browser users to automatically signal privacy preferences to websites that they visit. Our site(s) do not currently respond to do-not-track signals; however, you can exercise other choices available to you, including limiting the placement of browser cookies on your device using your browser's cookie control features and other choices described in this Policy.

Use of Information
Kowa may use the information we collect through our website(s) for the following purposes:

  • To respond to requests for information or to facilitate transactions or communications that users of our website(s) request;
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Disclosure of Information
We may disclose information with your consent or as otherwise necessary or appropriate to process a transaction that you may request.

We may disclose information to comply with FDA or other regulatory requirements.

We may disclose information that we collect through our website(s) with agents, affiliated businesses, and service providers providing services on our behalf.

In the event that our company or some of our assets are sold or transferred or used as security or to the extent we engage in business negotiations with our business partners, the information collected on our websites or mobile applications, including this site, may be transferred or shared with third parties as part of that transaction or negotiation.

If we receive a request from law enforcement officials or judicial authorities to provide information on individuals, we may provide such information. In matters involving claims of personal or public safety or in litigation where the data is pertinent, we may use or disclose your personal information without a court order. We may use information you submit to investigate security breaches, misconduct, or otherwise cooperate with authorities pursuant to a legal matter.

We do not share, sell, or lease personal information about you except as set forth in this Policy.

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Kowa has implemented reasonable security features to help protect the personally identifiable information that you have submitted from unauthorized access, use, alteration, or release. Please note, however, that although Kowa has endeavored to create a secure and reliable Site for users, we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of any communication or material transmitted to and/or from Kowa via the Site or e-mail. Accordingly, we are not responsible for the security of information transmitted via the Internet.

Access and Correction
It is our policy, with certain exceptions, to provide individuals with access to personal information that Kowa collects through our website(s). In some cases, the site you used may allow you to log in to directly access and/or correct information you have provided. In other cases, such as web forms that you may submit through the site, if you would like to obtain a copy of the information you provided or request a correction, you can contact us at When you update information, we may keep a copy of the prior version for our records.

Children and young people under 18 are requested to get permission from their parent or guardian before they submit personal data to Kowa websites.

Third-party websites
On Kowa’s website, we may provide links to third-party websites with content that we think may be of interest to you. Third-party websites are not controlled by Kowa and have their own privacy practices. You should read the Privacy Policy at each website that you visit after you leave our website. We do not endorse, and are not responsible for, the privacy practices or the content of any third-party websites.

This policy may be modified from time to time, and changes will be communicated promptly on this page.

General Information
For more information about Kowa’s Privacy Policy, please contact us:
Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
530 Industrial Park Boulevard
Montgomery, AL 36117