Cholesterol is naturally produced by the body, and is a building block for cell membranes and hormones. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol, conversely, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol. High cholesterol treatment includes lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), and medications such as statins, bile acid resins, and fibric acid derivatives.
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
High cholesterol is also referred to as hypercholesterolemia (hyper=high +
cholesterol + emia = in the blood) or hyperlipidemia
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is an important part of the outer
lining of cells in the body of animals.
Cholesterol is also found in the blood circulation of humans.
Cholesterol in the blood originates from dietary intake and liver
Dietary cholesterol comes primarily from animal sources including meat,
poultry, fish, and dairy products.
Organ meats such as liver, are especially high in cholesterol content.
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is called "bad" cholesterol,
because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk
of coronary heart disease.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is called the "good cholesterol"
because HDL cholesterol particles prevent atherosclerosis by extracting
cholesterol from artery walls and disposing of them through liver metabolism.
High levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol are risk
factors for atherosclerosis.
The National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association and the
American College of Cardiology publish guidelines to help physicians and
patients with this risk reduction for heart attack and stroke.
Factors that affect blood cholesterol levels include
diet, body weight,
exercise, age and gender, diabetes, heredity, and other causes including
underlying medical conditions.
Guidelines recommend that cholesterol screening occur every 5 years after
age 20. Should elevated cholesterol levels be found, testing may need to occur
Health care practitioners and the National Institute of Health recommend
that a person's cholesterol level stay below 200.
Cholesterol levels 200-239 are considered borderline high.
Cholesterol levels 240 or greater are considered high.
High cholesterol affects many people throughout the world. High cholesterol levels can greatly increase the risk of heart disease, including potentially fatal heart attacks. Exercise, weight loss, and a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels. However, when these measures fail, cholesterol-lowering medications are usually needed.