Here is more info from my local pharmacy about Cholesterol, its types and preventing high levels of bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol is bad. Right? No!
A high total cholesterol level is bad. A high level of LDL cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol itself is necessary for good health. And HDL cholesterol is actually good for us.
We couldn’t live without any cholesterol at all, because this waxy material is used to form cells and produce hormones. About 80% of the cholesterol in our bodies is manufactured by our liver. The other 20% comes from the food we eat. As long as we have the right amount of cholesterol in the right balance, we’re okay.
Types of Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol (also known as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) has taken on the label “bad cholesterol” because when there is too much of it in the body, the excess builds up in the bloodstream and attaches to the inside of the artery walls, forming a clog (called plaque) that slows the flow of blood. If a plaque breaks loose from an artery wall, it can block blood flow completely, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
HDL cholesterol (often referred to as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) helps rid the bloodstream of the cholesterol build-up by transporting the excess back to the liver where it is processed for elimination from the body, which is why it has become known as “good cholesterol.”
Closely related to cholesterol is a type of blood fat called triglyceride. Many people who have heart disease have both high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels, so doctors usually test for triglyceride when they test blood cholesterol levels.
A number of factors play a role in determining whether someone is likely to develop high cholesterol. Among them are:
A family history of high blood cholesterol
Eating a diet high in saturated fat
Lack of physical activity
High levels of stress
Taking certain prescription medications
Some of those factors are beyond our control. We can’t do much about getting older or about our family’s medical history, but we can eat sensibly and exercise regularly.
High cholesterol produces no symptoms, so it is impossible to know whether your cholesterol levels are in the healthy range unless you have them tested. Having this test is important, especially if you have risk factors that increase your likelihood of having high cholesterol. If left untreated, high blood cholesterol eventually narrows the vessels that carry blood throughout the body, and this reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the cells, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also lead to angina (chest pain) and reduced blood flow to the arms and legs, which can cause pain when walking and, in extreme cases, may lead to amputation.
Routine cholesterol testing is generally recommended for:
men over age 40
women who have reached menopause or who are over age 50
people with diabetes or high blood pressure
those who are obese and carry most of their in their abdomen
everyone with a strong family history of cardio¬vascular disease
anyone whose doctor suspects a possible problem with high cholesterol.
Depending on the levels of cholesterol in the blood and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (“good”) cholesterol, a person is considered to be in one of three categories: at high risk, at moderate risk, or at low risk of developing coronary artery disease. Based on the person’s risk category, the doctor will determine target cholesterol levels. Once target levels are established, a treatment program can be developed to help meet those goals.
Treating High Cholesterol
Adopting healthy lifestyle changes is the first step in bringing high cholesterol levels down to normal.
These changes may include:
Eating a healthier diet
Becoming more physically active
Maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25
Healthy eating habits are critical to cholesterol management, but what exactly does that mean? The Heart and Stroke Foundation offers the following tips to help you develop a healthy eating plan:
- Choose foods from each of the four food groups (vegetables and fruits, grain products, milk products, and meat and meat alternatives)
- Pick foods in a variety of colours, flavours, and textures
- Select whole grain breads and cereals
- Look for lean meats and trim all visible fat or substitute beans, lentils, dried peas, or fish
- Eat lower-fat dairy products
- Reduce the amount of saturated fats and trans fatty acids you consume to no more than 7% of your total calories
- Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids
- Decrease your consumption of refined carbo¬hydrates and sugar
- About 3/4 of the food you eat should be whole grain foods, vegetables, fruits, or legumes
- Avoid high-fat snack foods (such as cookies, pastries, and chips), fried foods, and most fast foods
For some people, these lifestyle changes will be enough to bring cholesterol levels down to the normal range. Other people will require medication. While cholesterol-lowering medicines can be very effective, they must be used in combination with a healthier lifestyle, not as a substitute for healthy habits.
There are several different types of cholesterol¬lowering medicines: statins, resins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, fibrates, and niacin (a form of vitamin B3), Each of these types of medication has benefits and drawbacks, and not every drug will be right for each person, Doctors must carefully assess which drug to prescribe for each patient, and sometimes a variety of treatments have to be tried before the right drug-or combination of drugs-is found.
Any drug-including herbal and natural remedies¬can cause side effects in some people, Because high cholesterol produces no symptoms and the medicines can have side effects, some people are tempted to stop taking their medication, This is a big mistake! High cholesterol levels that aren’t treated can have very serious health consequences, and side effects can usually be managed, Sometimes adjusting the dose reduces or eliminates the side effects; other times a different drug can be used that won’t cause unpleasant reactions, If you experience any ill effects from a cholesterol drug, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Do not simply decide on your own to stop taking the medication