Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and cholesterol levels are a huge factor in causing it. High cholesterol levels greatly increase your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. The danger of a high level is not only that it can lead to these life-threatening conditions, however, but that it does so without presenting any symptoms.
The Importance of Knowing And Treating High Cholesterol
It is common for a person to not know they have high cholesterol, or to not take it seriously, until after they have had a heart attack or stroke. In fact, nearly half of the people who have high cholesterol are completely unaware of it. This is because this dangerous health problem presents no outwards symptoms and so an individual who has it may feel perfectly healthy.
Even though it presents no immediate outward symptoms, however, it does not mean that it is not affecting your body. Some cholesterol is needed for your body to function, but if you get too much bad (LDL) cholesterol, it will create a plaque in your arms and cause them to harden and narrow.
This narrowing of the arteries may eventually lead to a deadly heart disease. It can also cause a heart attack if a blood clot forms and completely blocks off one of these already narrowed blood vessels. Strokes are another danger of high cholesterol, and are the third leading cause of death in the US. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks off a blood vessel in the brain.
What Should My Cholesterol Be?
Your cholesterol levels can be determined through a simple blood test administered by your doctor. A cholesterol level of below 200 mg / dL is generally considered to be ideal, and anything above 240 mg / dL is considered to be high. The danger from high cholesterol is increased as this number gets larger.
Being overweight, not exercising enough, eating poorly, and smoking can all contribute to high levels, but there are other risk factors that are beyond a person's control. These include old age, a hereditary predisposition, and medical conditions such as diabetes. Even a person who is fit and maintains a healthy diet can develop high cholesterol if their body is unable to effectively process normal levels of cholesterol.
What Should I Do To Keep Healthy?
Because high cholesterol can lead to life-threatening conditions without displaying any symptoms beforehand, you should make sure to regularly check your levels through a blood test. If you are healthy and do not have any risk factors that you are aware of, you should get your blood tested every five years or so from the time you turn twenty. If you are at greater risk of developing high cholesterol, you should have your levels tested more often.
This health problem should be taken very seriously, and if you have it, you should consult a doctor about the steps you can take to lower it. This can generally be done through dieting, but if this proves not to be enough, but your doctor may also prescribe medication. The danger of high cholesterol can generally be avoided if you know you have it and take measures to control it, so make an appointment to get your blood tested today!