Cholesterol is a substance your body needs to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. There are two types of blood cholesterol: LDL (“bad”) and HDL (“good”). Too much LDL cholesterol or not enough HDL cholesterol in the body can cause a buildup, called “plaque,” on the walls of blood vessels. Plaque causes inflammation that can result in high blood pressure, and it can block arteries to the heart and brain. This can result in heart attacks and strokes. These are the leading causes of death in the United States.
High cholesterol is a total blood cholesterol ≥ 200 mg/d. About 38 percent of American adults have high cholesterol. High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get your cholesterol checked. Talk to a member of your health care team – community health worker, doctor, medical assistant, nurse, or pharmacist – about how you can manage your cholesterol and lower your risk.
What can you do?
- Check your cholesterol. It is key to know your LDL and HDL numbers to help you know your risk.
- Change your diet and lifestyle to help improve your numbers.
- Control your cholesterol, get tips from your health care team.
- Talk with your pharmacist. Pharmacists can:
- Help you interpret your cholesterol numbers.
- Assist you in making health choices now to prevent or lessen severe health conditions later.
- Counsel you on your medications.