Most of us know that high cholesterol is unhealthy, but must of us are probably unaware of the fact that we have high cholesterol levels because there are no symptoms. This means that many Americans are putting their bodies at risk for stroke, heart attack, and heart disease – without knowing it.
In fact, according to the CDC there are more than 120 million Americans who have a higher than healthy cholesterol levels. What we might not know about cholesterol might in fact be hurting us.
What Is It Exactly?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. The liver produces cholesterol and you might find it in a number of different foods. Cholesterol floats in the bloodstream and is important for the healthy function of our body. However, when we have too much cholesterol, it can be dangerous to our vascular and heart health.
Basic Facts About Cholesterol To Remember
- Two types – We can identify two different types of cholesterol. These are the “bad” cholesterol, (low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This is the primary source of high cholesterol levels. There is also the “good” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
- Two sources – There are two sources of cholesterol. Around 25 percent comes from food sources —primarily animal products, while the other 75 comes from blood cholesterol. Some people have genes that cause the body to produce too much cholesterol.
- No symptoms – There are no symptoms to high blood cholesterol. Most people do not know if their cholesterol is too high, because they do not experience any type of symptoms.
- Easily detectable – By using a blood test, it is easy to detect high cholesterol. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, this screening should take place every five years. Those at a higher risk (including seniors) should get tested more often.
The reason that seniors are at a higher risk is because as we age, our cholesterol tends to rise. For women, their LDL levels tend to increase after the menopause. This is obviously not the only risk factor, but it is an important one to consider.
Our cardiovascular health can greatly benefit from lowering our cholesterol levels. You might increase the risk of heart attack or heart disease when you have high levels of LDL combined with other risk factors. At the same time, appropriate levels of good cholesterol may protect against dementia, stroke, and heart attack.