Cholesterol can be a tricky thing to understand, especially when you’re not exactly sure what your levels mean and how they can affect the various aspects of your body – including your heart.
So, what is cholesterol? What does it have to do with heart disease? Simply put, cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood. It is essential to certain cell functions in your body, such as digesting foods, producing hormones, converting vitamin D in the skin and creating new cells. Your liver makes cholesterol for your body, but you also get cholesterol from eating certain foods, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in "packages" called lipoproteins. There are two kinds:
If the total amount of cholesterol in your blood is too high, more plaque builds up over time, eventually limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. This can cause coronary heart disease (CHD) to develop, which can lead to even more serious health issues, like blood clots, heart attack or a stroke.
Most of the time, you can control your cholesterol levels through a healthy diet and lifestyle, which will lower your risk of cardiovascular health issues. For a small percentage of people, however, high cholesterol is sometimes caused by genetically inherited cholesterol-related disorders that cannot be controlled with diet or other lifestyle changes. That’s why it’s so important to know your numbers and monitor them on an ongoing basis.
Talk to your doctor about what HDL and LDL levels are healthy, and what can be done to lower risks. Routine blood tests can show your cholesterol levels . To learn about what other factors may be affecting your risk for cardiovascular disease, take our free heart health assessment.
As the first hospital in Arkansas to provide open-heart surgery, Northwest Medical Center - Springdale, along with its sister hospital Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville, have offered leading edge cardiac services for many years. Additionally, Northwest Medical Center - Springdale was the first hospital in Northwest Arkansas to achieve Cycle IV Chest Pain Center Accreditation with Primary PCI through the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC). Northwest Medical Center - Bentonville achieved the same accreditation, and both hospitals maintain this accreditation today (now cycle V) to show Northwest Health's continued commitment to your heart.
Northwest Health is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a select group of independent health systems that work closely with Mayo Clinic to improve the delivery of health care and better serve their patients and their communities. Patients experience the confidence of being able to access world-leading medical expertise through their trusted Northwest Health doctor, with the comfort and convenience of staying close to home.
From prevention to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, numerous services are available throughout our five-hospital network.
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