What is blood cholesterol?
Cholesterol is one of the fats in your blood that your body uses to make cell membranes, vitamin D and hormones14. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol because high levels of this type in the blood promote the buildup of fatty deposits or plaque in the artery walls.14
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as “good” cholesterol because it helps carry LDL-cholesterol away from the artery walls.14
Why is controlling your cholesterol so important for your heart?
Keeping your cholesterol under control is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from heart disease. As your cholesterol levels go up, so does your risk of heart disease.
What happens when you have high cholesterol?
It can build up on the walls of your arteries. Eventually the walls of your arteries become narrower and less flexible making it harder for blood to flow through your body. Sometimes, a blood clot can build up in the narrowed artery and move to the heart, causing a heart attack.
How can you find out if you have high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is very common – it affects about 40% of Canadians.1 But most of the time it causes no symptoms, so you may have high cholesterol and not even know it.
But the good news is that you can find out if you have high cholesterol with a simple blood test. And you can get your cholesterol under control by eating healthy, exercising, and quitting smoking. In some cases, people also need medications to help control their cholesterol.
1. Heart & Stroke Foundation. Living with cholesterol. http://www.heartandstroke.com/atf/cf/%7B99452D8B-E7F1-4BD6-A57D-B136CE6C95BF%7D/Living-with-cholesterol-en.pdf, accessed 11 October 2011.
14. Heart & Stroke Foundation. High blood cholesterol. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3484027/k.8419/Heart_disease__High_blood_cholesterol.htm, accessed 23 November 2012.