September is National Cholesterol Education Month, and it is a good time to review what cholesterol is and a few things you can do to keep it in check.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all of the cells in your body. It is necessary for your body to have some cholesterol in order to produce hormones, vitamin D, and other substances that aid in digestion. Your body will generally make the cholesterol it needs, but it can also be found in foods that you eat. Some cholesterol is good, but too much can definitely be a bad thing. When too much is present in your body, it begins to clog your arteries and form blockages in your heart, which can lead to heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke.
What Are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?
Unfortunately, there are no real signs that your cholesterol levels are high, putting you at risk for heart problems if things go unchecked for a long amount of time. However, there is no cause for alarm. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels and make sure that you are not at risk for heart disease or a heart attack.
With September being geared towards cholesterol education, it is a good reminder to get in to see your doctor for a cholesterol check and take steps to lower it if your levels are unusually high. You should get your levels checked more often if you are over the age of 50, have had high cholesterol in the past, have other risk factors for heart disease or stroke, or if high cholesterol runs in the family.
What Can You Do to Lower Your Cholesterol?
Once you have your cholesterol checked and find that your levels are on the high side, you may wonder what you can do to remedy the problem. Unfortunately, you are not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control, 71 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol, and only a third of those have it under control. Lowering your cholesterol is very important because it may slow, reduce, or even stop the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and the presence of dangerous blood clots.