Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells. It's normal to have cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body because it's used for producing cell membranes and some hormones, and serves other needed bodily functions. But too much cholesterol in the blood is a major risk for coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and for stroke.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75% of blood cholesterol. The other 25% comes from the foods you eat.
LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol. When too much of it circulates in the blood, it can clog arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. LDL cholesterol is produced naturally by the body, but many people inherit genes that cause them to make too much. Eating saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases how much you have.
American Heart Association Recommendations
It's important for all people to know their cholesterol level. Total blood cholesterol is the most common measurement of blood cholesterol. It's the number you receive as test results. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). A cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher puts you in a high-risk category and is cause to take action.
How To Lower Cholesterol
The good news is, you can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Whether you've been prescribed medication or advised to make diet and lifestyle changes to help manage your cholesterol, carefully follow your doctor's recommendations. To keep your cholesterol under control The American Heart Association recommends that you: schedule a screening, eat foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat and free of trans fat, maintain a healthy weight, and stay physically active.