Cholesterol is a fatty material in your blood, produced by your own body. There is both good, and bad, cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad type, dirties your arteries with plaque, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good, cleans away deposits by removing the excess. When the bad outweighs the good, your arteries become clogged, putting you at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
People who are overweight, abuse alcohol, smoke cigarettes, are physically inactive or have a diet high in carbohydrates are at risk of having elevated LDL levels and a low HDL count. But what are healthy levels for you may not be healthy for someone else. Only your doctor can tell what is best for you; however, generally speaking, your total cholesterol should be less than 200.
There are no symptoms or warning signs for high blood cholesterol. The only way to find out if you are at risk is to have a blood test, but there are other warning signs that may be an indication that high cholesterol has clogged your arteries and is putting you at risk of a heart attack. Fatigue, shortness of breath, fainting or dizziness, swelling of the ankles or pain in the chest are all possible serious signs and should not be ignored.
Lower Your Cholesterol
Diet and exercise are the two most important areas one should focus on to change or lower cholesterol levels. Fatty foods, such as butter and lards, should be avoided. Fried foods, oils, cheese and whole milk need to be cut from your diet. Donuts, sweet snacks and sugar are also not good for people with high cholesterol.
If you are overweight, do your best to lose excess weight. Avoid foods that contain high levels of cholesterol, such as eggs. Try to plan balanced meals and eat smaller portions.
Change Your Lifestyle
Managing a proper level after years of eating the wrong foods, consuming alcohol to excess and not exercising won’t happen until you change your lifestyle. Realizing that what you put into your body has a direct effect on the health of your arteries is a big first step. Cholesterol levels begin to rise in men after the age of 20, and the American Heart Association recommends testing for cholesterol every five years.
If diet and exercise are not lowering your high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medication. One popular brand, Lipitor, has been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels by up to 60 percent. Always follow your prescription directions exactly and remember that if you stop taking your medicine, your levels will go up.