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Baymeadows Healthcare

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol occurs when there is too much or an unhealthy balance of cholesterol in the blood. Your body needs some cholesterol for healthy functioning, but too much is dangerous to your health. Since high cholesterol has no symptoms, the only way to find out if you have it is to get tested with a simple blood test.

High cholesterol is treated with lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and medications. Untreated high cholesterol increases the risk for heart and blood vessel disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is essential to your health. You obtain cholesterol from the foods that you eat, but the majority of cholesterol is produced by your liver. Cholesterol is a component in your blood, cells, and body tissues. Your brain, nerves, muscles, skin, liver, intestines, and heart use it to function. Your body uses cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D, and bile that helps to digest fat. Cholesterol helps your nerves and brain send messages.

A total cholesterol test shows the total amount of cholesterol in your blood. A more detailed test, a lipid profile, includes lipoprotein measurements that are more useful and reflective of your health. Cholesterol travels out from your liver and into your bloodstream on fat and protein carriers called lipoproteins. The two main types are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol contains more protein than fat. HDL carries cholesterol away from your arteries and out of your body. High HDL levels can reduce the risk of heart attack. HDL is the “good” cholesterol. The “H” in HDL is commonly referred to as “healthy.” You want your HDL levels to be high.

High cholesterol can lead to narrowed and clogged arteries and contribute to heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, liver disease, Cushing’s syndrome, or kidney disease can contribute to high cholesterol.

Risk factors for high cholesterol include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of exercise
  • Consuming foods that are high in cholesterol

Since there are no symptoms of high cholesterol, it is important to have blood work done to check your level of cholesterol. To schedule an appointment at our patient-centered medical home for blood work, call Baymeadows Healthcare in Jacksonville, FL today at (904) 636-5400.