Cholesterol Facts: Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Attack & Stroke
Recognizing the Symptoms of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like waxy substance that is found in the bloodstream and in all body cells. It is used for producing cell membranes and some hormones, and also serves other needed bodily functions. Cholesterol is a normal part of the body's daily function. However, the presence of too much cholesterol in the blood is a major concern for the development of coronary heart disease (a leading cause of heart attacks), and stroke. Having too much blood cholesterol in the system is known as hypercholesterolemia.
The Facts about Cholesterol Intake
A person receives their cholesterol intake from two sources:
- The body: Seventy five percent of blood cholesterol comes from a person's liver and other cells in the body. Body cholesterol is also inherited from genes in the family, from parents or grandparents. These genes can cause the body to produce too much cholesterol.
- Food: Twenty five percent of total cholesterol comes from the foods we eat. This percentage comes from the intake of animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and whole milk. Plant-based foods, such as fruit, vegetables and cereal do not have cholesterol. Eating saturated fats, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases the overall cholesterol amount in the body.
Good and Bad Cholesterol
The types of cholesterol can be broken down into two basic categories:
- HDL: Good cholesterol
- LDL: Bad cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is a high density lipoprotein. An average ranging between one fourth and one third of total blood cholesterol is carried by HDL cholesterol. Medical experts believe HDL to be beneficial, carrying cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. High levels of HDL protect against the risk of heart attack. LDL cholesterol can build up in the inner walls of the arteries that provide the heart and brain with essential nutrients as it circulates in the blood. When combined with other substances, LDL cholesterol can cause the condition known as atherosclerosis, a thick deposit of plaque that narrows arteries, making them less flexible. If clots form and block these narrowed arteries, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Being proactive to prevent the risk of a heart attack or stroke can be achieved by several means including, the scheduling of a cholesterol screening, eating foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, maintaining a healthy weight range, exercising regularly, and following the advice of your health care professional. Exercise and diet are the best ways to handle the negative effects of cholesterol. Making simple changes in diet, eating healthier food choices, and vigorous physical activities such as walking can make a noticeable change in how a person feels.
Check with Your Physician
Before making any major change in lifestyle, consult with your physician to evaluate current cholesterol levels, and to determine what foods will work best for a diet and to create a foundation of a good daily exercise routine. From there, a person can find the best way to get their cholesterol levels back under control.
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