Two out of three adults in this country have high cholesterol. It’s Cholesterol Education Month and Williams Bros. Health Care Pharmacy wants everyone to be aware of their cholesterol numbers and know what they can do about them.
What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a naturally occurring waxy, fat-like substance that your body uses as a source of energy. Cholesterol is also a storage unit for energy. Fat/cholesterol helps to regulate cell membranes and helps regulate what is going into and going out of your body’s cells. Your body uses cholesterol to make and regulate many important substances including estrogen and testosterone and vitamin D. So yes, your body needs some cholesterol and a healthy type of cholesterol, but it’ all about having the right amount of the right kind.
LDL versus HDL; what is the difference and what you need to know? When people talk about having high cholesterol, they are usually referring to having or high LDL. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” cholesterol. Having a high LDL level can cause fats to build up on the walls of your arteries restricting blood flow and leading to heart disease and stroke. We hear a lot about these to health problems being a large and still growing problem in our country and they are some of the biggest cause of death and disability for both men and women.
LDL is different from HDL. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” cholesterol. HDL are microscopic blobs in the bloodstream that cruise the bloodstream like a little janitor removing harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong. Those little HDL janitors take the bad cholesterol to our body’s recycling center (the liver) here it can be processed and dispose of. Here’s the kicker, while higher HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease, having low HDL levels and high LDL levels increase the risk of heart issues.
Obesity and high cholesterol are a large and growing in this country. How many Americans have high LDL cholesterol? Experts tell us that an adult’s total cholesterol should be less than 170 mg/dL. But more than 102 million of American adults have cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL. More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, sometime much, much higher.
If you diagnosed with high cholesterol, the doctor may have several different treatments and suggestions for you to lower your numbers and your risk including prescription medication.