Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that circulates through the bloodstream as
part of the cell membrane. Unable to dissolve in blood, it is transported by lipoproteins to
and from the liver through the circulatory system.Found throughout all human bodies, it
is an integral part of life, and an adequate amount is essential for the body to function
properly.However, an excess of it can clog the arteries, increasing a person's risk for
cardiovascular disease in the form of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
There are several types of lipoproteins that shuttle the cholesterol, some good and
some bad.Low-density lipoprotein or LDL, is considered the bad cholesterol, since an
excess may block the coronary arteries leading to heart attacks, or block an artery in the
brain causing a stroke.To reduce the risk of this, LDL levels should be kept less than
130mg/dL in a normal person and less than l00mg/dL in adults already at risk for heart
disease or with other factors such as diabetes.The opposite, High-density lipoprotein, or
good cholesterol, removes cholesterol from the blood vessels, helping protect the body
from atherosclerosis.HDL levels should be greater than 40 in men and 50 in women, to
offer protection from cardiovascular disease.
An individual's cholesterol level is a contributing factor to their risk of developing
some type of cardiovascular disease and the chance becomes greater as the cholesterol
level increases.Since heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes are leading causes of death
in the United States and since many people are asymtomatic, although their cholesterol is
elevated, it is essential to determine a person's level.If a high level is found, then
regardless of age, race, or sex, reducing it becomes a priority.This can be done in a
number of ways including diet, exercise, medication, and a combination of all three.

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