Typically high cholesterol has no direct symptoms, but cholesterol may still do damage to blood vessels. When blood flows through vessels, it carries many important things the body needs to functions such as oxygen and cholesterol. So, problems with blood vessels can lead to heart disease and stroke.
LDL is often called “bad cholesterol.” Too much LDL can build up in the body and form a thick, hard substance that clogs your blood vessels and blocks the flow of blood to your heart and brain. HDL is often called “good cholesterol.” HDL helps the body get rid of the LDL cholesterol. HDL collect excess cholesterol the LDL has left behind. Triglycerides are a form of fat. Patients can sometimes have elevated Triglycerides. Triglycerides travel in the bloodstream to be used for energy or stored as body fat. Unhealthy levels of cholesterol may be caused by poor eating habits or the liver and body cells may make too much (a problem that often runs in families).
If your cholesterol level is too high, you could be heading for a heart attack or stroke without knowing it. High LDL cholesterol is one risk factor for heart disease. Other risk factors, such as diabetes, also put people at a higher risk. Overeating and lack of exercise can also impact your cholesterol, but typically your family history contributes more to your cholesterol levels.
Take Action to Control Your Cholesterol
Although there is no cure for high cholesterol, it can be controlled. Lifestyle changes and medicine, if needed, can help restore your body’s cholesterol balance while helping to control other risk factors.
Lack of physical activity has been shown to double a person’s risk of getting heart disease. When combined with a low fat diet, regular activity can help you decrease your total cholesterol level, increase your HDL level, and lose weight. Other benefits include the prevention of bone loss and increased muscle strength. Exercise may also help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer, depression and anxiety.
Health experts recommend adding 2 ½ hours of steady walking (or other activities) to your weekly schedule. Here are some ways to fit in walking and regular activity weekly:
Remember to stop exercising and consult a doctor is you have any of the following:
Eat Healthy & Cook Right
To adapt your favorite recipes, try baking, steaming, broiling, or microwaving instead of frying. Frying adds fat to naturally healthy, low fat foods. So do gravies and cream sauces. A few changes in the way you cook can cut fat and calories without cutting flavor.
By making a few changes in the way you cook, you can still enjoy good taste while helping control your weight and high blood pressure. Choose less fatty foods; eat more vegetable and fewer sweets.
Eat Well When Eating Out
Be aware of what you order. This means avoid fried, sautéed, and breaded foods. Also avoid cream and butter sauces, salty soups and meats, and sweet, creamy desserts. Instead choose clears soups and while at the salad bar stay away from toppings or dressings made with mayonnaise. Order salad dressings and sauces on the side and use only a little of them. Consider ordering an appetizer for the main course or sharing a main dish. Some restaurants will put half of the portion in a doggie bag for later. If you want dessert consider ordering fresh fruit, angel food cake, fruit ice, or nonfat frozen yogurt.
Many restaurants now offer low fat, low cholesterol alternatives. Ask your waiter or waitress if they have suggestions or if such items are marked or separated on the menu.
Sometimes exercise and diet aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your cholesterol levels more. When taking any medicine, be sure to take it as directed by your physician.
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