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.
When you put your heart in our hands, you get the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in cardiac care, the commitment that brought the first open heart surgery to our communities, and skills that can stop a heart attack in progress.
The heart care teams at ShorePoint Health are with you every step of the way, from preventive screenings and lifestyle support, through minimally invasive treatments and life-saving emergency care.
Located on the campus of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, Southwest Florida Heart Center is Charlotte County's largest heart center and the only accredited Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) from the American College of Cardiology (ACC).
ShorePoint Health Venice has received a certification of Distinction for Chest Pain by The Joint Commission, 2021, a highly valued certification that combines a review of Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) and Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS).
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