What to Know About High Cholesterol

If there’s one substance in our bodies that we’re always talking about, it’s cholesterol. We’re composed of many separate substances and symptoms and yet what gets the most attention from doctors, patients, and society at large is cholesterol. Why is this this? There are a few major reasons. For one thing, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the biggest contributor to developing heart disease is high cholesterol (with hypertension and smoking not far behind). It’s something that’s always in our consciousness and is part of the marketing of nearly every food you can buy at the supermarket. We’re obsessed with cholesterol, and with good reason. It’s important to know the facts on cholesterol so that you can best take care of yourself. Here are ten things you should know about cholesterol.

You need cholesterol

You may think you need to avoid cholesterol completely, but you need cholesterol to live. It’s only when you have too much of it that it becomes a danger to your health. Consider that there are different kinds of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is “good cholesterol” and you want high amounts of it. LDL cholesterol is “bad cholesterol” and you need to keep it low. Our cells, though, need cholesterol so don’t avoid it completely.

High cholesterol is very common

Unfortunately, high cholesterol is a very common affliction. It’s believed that about one-third of the adult population in the U.S. has high cholesterol. The general recommendation is that people over 20 should get their cholesterol checked every five years at least, while your doctor may do it every year at your physical. If you haven’t gotten your cholesterol checked in the past five years, it’s highly recommended that you do.

Your cholesterol is tied to your genes

Diet and exercise play a large part in managing your cholesterol. There’s no question. However, the bad news is that a major component when it comes to high cholesterol is your genetics. Many people with high cholesterol have a family history of it and need to work harder to keep it low.

High cholesterol can happen at any age

High cholesterol isn’t just something that happens to older people or even heavier people. You could be rail thin and have high cholesterol. Even children can have high cholesterol. In fact, this is becoming a rising problem as childhood obesity reaches crisis levels. Even babies can be born with high cholesterol if they are genetically predisposed to it.

Exercise can help high cholesterol

Exercise is a great way to manage your cholesterol levels, specifically your HDL. HDL cholesterol. Which actually helps protect against heart disease, can be raised by exercising more. High intensity training multiple times a week can increase HDL levels by double digits in a matter of a few weeks. Everyone’s bodies will vary, of course.

Supplements can help high cholesterol

Plant stenols and sterols have been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol when taken daily along with a healthy diet. There is a pretty big caveat here though: prescription medications work faster. Also, diet and exercise are far and away more effective. That being said, supplements can help but it takes awhile so don’t rely on them.

More people than ever are on cholesterol medication

It used to be that cholesterol medications were only prescribed to people who had over a 20 percent chance of having a heart attack in the next decade. The new threshold is 7.5 percent, which means far more people should be taking these medications because they are high risk.

High cholesterol is sometimes visible

While not especially common, you can actually see cholesterol deposits in some people. This is characterized as yellowish fatty deposits that can be seen in different parts of the body, particularly the eye.

Many people are on the borderline

The average total cholesterol for American adults in the U.S. is just shy of what is considered borderline high cholesterol. This is troubling and only emphasizes why you need to get checked regularly.


Too much of anything is bad for you, and this is certainly the case when it comes to cholesterol. There is a reason that your doctor puts so much emphasis on monitoring your cholesterol levels. Most people get their cholesterol checked once a year at their annual physical. If you’ve already been identified as someone with high cholesterol and at high risk for heart disease, your doctor will likely recommend checking your cholesterol more often and even putting you on medication to help lower it. If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked lately, it’s imperative that you do. This only becomes more serious as you get older. Book an appointment online with us today to get your cholesterol levels checked. The team at Danvers Family Doctors is here to provide you with the care you need so you can lead a healthy life.

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