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News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation – The Union

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If you have been told you should be careful of your cholesterol, do you know exactly what that means? Cholesterol is a waxy substance made in the liver, and found in your body’s blood and cells. Cholesterol is important for good health and making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid. However, too much can pose a health problem.
Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The remainder comes from eating foods such as egg yolks, meat, poultry, and dairy products. The saturated and trans fats in these foods cause your liver to make more cholesterol than it normally would.
Cholesterol circulates in the blood. Too much cholesterol in the blood may build up the blood vessel walls blocking blood flow to tissues and organs. This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.


There are two types of cholesterol. LDL is not beneficial for you, but HDL is good. LDL contributes to fatty buildups which narrows the arteries and puts you at serious health risk. HDL cholesterol carries the LDL away from the arteries and back to the liver where it is broken down so it can pass through the body. However, HDL only helps eliminate one-third to one-fourth of LDL.
Triglycerides, which are the most common type of fat in the body, store excess energy from your diet. A high triglyceride level combined with a high LDL or low HDL is linked with fatty buildups in the artery walls.

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Cholesterol numbers are measured in milligrams per deciliter. For most healthy adults, your total cholesterol count should be less than 200 mg/dl. Your LDL should be less than 100 mg/dl and your HDL greater than 40 mg/dl.
Since there are no symptoms, how do you know if you have high cholesterol? Cholesterol is determined through a blood test that looks at your lipid levels. A lipid is an organic compound that is insoluble in water. This includes fats, waxes, oils, hormones and some components of membranes that function as energy-storage molecules and chemical messengers.
Risk factors include being overweight, consuming an unhealthy diet, a lack of movement or exercise, a family history, smoking, diabetes, and kidney disease. You can improve your cholesterol through a healthy lifestyle. For more serious cases, medications may be prescribed.
You can reduce your cholesterol by avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Eat a diet low in saturated fats and high in fiber. Limit the processed foods you eat by reducing the amount of fatty red meat, egg yolks and high-fat dairy products you are eating. Commit to some level of daily exercise or movement to maintain a healthy weight.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends cholesterol screenings every one to two years for men 45 to 65 and for women 55 to 65. People over 65 should be screened annually. Talk to your physician about your cholesterol levels. It’s important to manage and treat high cholesterol early before it leads to serious health problems.
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