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Cholesterol basics

Most people know that high cholesterol is bad. But there’s a bigger picture involved when determining what’s considered too high.

The only way to know your cholesterol situation and what to do about it, is by working with a health care provider. This is important because poorly managed cholesterol could lead to heart attack, stroke and other major health problems.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an important part of the body that every cell has on its surface. There are different forms of cholesterol. A high level of bad cholesterol can be harmful, particularly if the person has other conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or is a smoker.

How is elevated or high cholesterol treated?

Fast for at least 8 hours before having the blood test to check your cholesterol. This is important to get an accurate result. Treatment comes in two forms: lifestyle changes and medication. Diets low in saturated fat and trans fats, and enriched with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meat, fish and nuts can help. Another lifestyle change is being physically more active.

The neat thing about cholesterol-lowering interventions is that you can see changes quite quickly with improvements occuring within weeks of initiating dietary changes or medications.

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