You may have heard of cholesterol. You may have even heard that it is bad. Every day it seems a new article comes out about what cholesterol does or what affects cholesterol. Not many people, though, know the full story.
Cholesterol over the years has earned a bad reputation. This reputation comes from cholesterol being known for decades to be a significant contributor to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. When people develop these debilitating and deadly diseases at a young age, cholesterol is often a factor. By understanding and managing cholesterol, you can avoid premature death and disability.
Cholesterol in excess builds up in your arteries, the blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to your brain. When these arteries get too clogged, parts of your organs cannot receive what cells need to survive. If this happened in the blood vessels to your brain, you would suffer a stroke, or in the blood vessels to your heart, a heart attack. These diseases can leave you disabled, paralyzed, or even kill you.
What you might not know is that you can recruit cholesterol to be on your side. There are different types of cholesterol; some clog arteries, but others clean up arteries. If you know how to lower the bad type and increase the good type, you can significantly prevent clogging or even unclog your arteries, reducing your chance of suffering heart attacks and strokes.
To start to manage your cholesterol, you need to get tested beginning at a fairly young age. These tests require repeating every few years, and if you are higher-risk, you may need testing more often to determine the proper treatment. This knowledge will help to guide you as you implement changes in your life to improve your cholesterol.
Cholesterol can be greatly influenced by your diet, physical activity, whether or not you smoke, your weight, and your levels of stress. By making certain changes in these areas, you can reduce your chance of early death and disability. Simple changes, such as eating fewer calories and bad fats in exchange for more fiber, nutrients, and good fats, can tremendously influence your cholesterol levels. Even a modest amount of physical activity a few days a week, no matter what the activity, can have a huge impact. Not smoking and reducing stress can reduce your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol.
The changes that help your cholesterol can also reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as lower your blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar risks. Also, such changes in your lifestyle will give you more energy and an improved mood, improving the quality of your life.
Over the past twenty years, significant progress has been made in developing medications that improve cholesterol levels and reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease. These medications can create negative side effects, but the benefits may outweigh the risks.
Overall, by understanding cholesterol, how it acts, what you can do to manage it, and how to implement those actions, you can influence your future health tremendously, while potentially improving your current life.