Cholesterol is both good and bad. At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body. However, if concentrations in the blood get too high, it becomes a silent danger that puts YOU at risk of heart attack. A person with high cholesterol levels often has no signs or symptoms, but routine screening and regular blood tests can help detect high levels.
A person who does not undergo testing may have a heart attack without warning, because they did not know that they had high cholesterol levels. Regular tests can help to reduce this risk.
Cholesterol is present in every cell of the body and has important natural functions when it comes to digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. The body produces it, but people also consume it in food. It is waxy and fat-like in appearance. Cholesterol is an oil-based substance. It does not mix with the blood, which is water-based. It travels around the body in lipoproteins. There are two types of cholesterol:
low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol
A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow. Risk factors for high cholesterol include family history and the modifiable lifestyle choices of diet and exercise. If lifestyle changes are unsuccessful or cholesterol levels are very high, a doctor may prescribe a lipid-lowering drug, such as a statin.
Watch your health numbers and take action. It’s motivating and It works.
How many steps you take per day
Moving a lot improves every other heart-health measure and disease risk. We urge you walking up to 10,000 steps a day, or almost five miles. Another rule of thumb is to exercise 150 minutes per week.
Your blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, has no symptoms; it can only be detected by being measured. A score of 120/80 is optimal, and 140/90 is normal for most people. Higher readings mean that arteries aren’t responding right to the force of blood pushing against artery walls (blood pressure), directly raising the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Your non-HDL cholesterol
That’s your total cholesterol reading minus your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, a measure of fats in the blood that can narrow and clog arteries to the heart. Lower is better: Aim for a score lower than 130 mg/dL or, if you’re at a high risk of heart disease, lower than 70–100 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar
High blood sugar ups your risk of diabetes, which damages arteries. In fact, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are among the most harmful risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
How many hours of sleep a night you get
Although there’s no one “right” answer for all, consistently getting the number of hours that works for you helps lower the risk of heart disease. Most people need to sleep six to eight hours a night.