What is High Blood Cholesterol?
Too much cholesterol in the blood, or high blood cholesterol, can be serious. People with high blood cholesterol have a greater chance of getting heart disease. High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms; so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high.
To understand high blood cholesterol, it is important to know more about cholesterol:
- Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all cells of the body.
- Your body needs some cholesterol to work the right way and makes all the cholesterol you need.
- Cholesterol is also found in some of the foods you eat.
- You use cholesterol to make hormones, Vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food.
Blood is watery and cholesterol is fatty. Just like oil and water, the two do not mix. So, in order to travel in the bloodstream, cholesterol is carried in small packages called lipoproteins. The small packages are made of fat (lipid) on the inside and proteins on the outside. Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body. It is important to have healthy levels of both:
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is sometimes called "bad" cholesterol.
- High LDL cholesterol leads to a buildup of cholesterol in arteries. The higher the LDL level in your blood, the greater chance you have for having a heart attack.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is sometimes called "good" cholesterol.
- HDL carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. The liver removes the cholesterol from your body. The higher your HDL cholesterol level, the lower your chance of developing heart disease.
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