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The Dangers of High Cholesterol

Over the years, the role of cholesterol has been misunderstood and misrepresented. As medicine learned more about the part cholesterol plays in your health, the advice about cholesterol, healthy levels, and managing amounts has changed. 

The fact is, your body needs cholesterol to help build healthy cells, make vitamin D, and aid digestion, among other roles. When you have too much, however, you’re at risk of potential health complications. 

Managing cholesterol is doubly important if you have other medical conditions that contribute to the same complications. High cholesterol has no symptoms, so you need regular blood tests to ensure your future safety. The doctors and teams at Health Solutions in Tinley Park, Rockford, Olympia Fields, and Munster can diagnose high cholesterol levels and help you develop a management plan. Here’s why it’s important. 

Cholesterol basics

A sticky, waxy substance produced naturally by your body, cholesterol is usually maintained at optimal levels by your body. You don’t need cholesterol in your diet to supply your needs, meaning you don’t need to get it from your diet. But it does arrive every time you eat animal products like meat, cheese, butter, and eggs. You may accumulate more cholesterol than your body can process. 

Excess cholesterol mixes with other elements in your blood and forms plaque in your arteries, which sticks to the walls and makes the passageway very narrow and stiff. This is called atherosclerosis, and it can lead to serious heart disease.

The components of cholesterol

Fat and protein content in your blood are referred to as lipoproteins. Cholesterol attaches to these to move through your body. Not all lipoproteins are the same, so the cholesterol journey takes different routes.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL)

HDL is considered “good cholesterol” because, when cholesterol attaches to it, HDL returns the cholesterol to your liver for disposal. High levels of HDL are a good sign for your body.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL)

When LDL levels dominate, something very different happens. LDL is the transporter that delivers cholesterol to where your body needs it. The problem is that high levels of LDL mean that you have more cholesterol waiting to be used than your body needs. That’s when cholesterol begins to stick to your artery walls rather than cycling through your body as it should. 

Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL)

VLDL is also considered a “bad cholesterol” because it contributes to artery clogging. VLDL binds with triglycerides rather than cholesterol. Triglycerides are a different sort of blood protein that typically accumulate when you regularly take in more calories than you burn. 

Causes of high cholesterol

 Along with dietary sources of cholesterol, you may experience elevated levels if you have other risk factors, including: 

Preventing high cholesterol and its complications

Prevention is the best way to deal with high cholesterol, making changes before you have issues. Lifestyle changes include increasing activity and exercise along with eating a healthy diet. A heart-friendly diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, controlled portions of lean meats, while limiting extra fats and highly processed foods and sugars. 

You can only influence your cholesterol levels a limited amount through dietary changes though, so if you still have high cholesterol levels, you may need to add medications to further adjust your levels downward. 

Contact Health Solutions at any of their four locations in Illinois and Indiana for an evaluation of your cholesterol levels and, if necessary, a cholesterol management plan customized to fit your lifestyle. You can call each office directly, or use the online booking tool on this page. Your future is important. Get your cholesterol under control today. 

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