How High Cholesterol Affects Your Body
Some people may be surprised to learn that cholesterol – a type of waxy fat found in the blood – isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, cholesterol is naturally produced by the liver to help the body’s various organs grow and work properly. It is also derived from many foods, such as animal products like meats, poultry, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese.
There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol). A certain level of each type of cholesterol is essential for good health. Consider the role of HDL, which actually removes excess LDL from the blood and carries it back to the liver, where it is processed and sent out of the body.
On the other hand, too much LDL can cause plaque to form between the layers of artery walls. Plaque is problematic because it can inhibit blood flow and allow clots to develop. Blood clots can have very serious health consequences. For instance, if a clot blocks an artery that leads to the brain, it can cause a stroke; if a clot blocks an artery that leads to the heart, it can cause a heart attack.
It’s important to regularly monitor your cholesterol levels so that you take appropriate steps to lower your LDL level, if necessary, and reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. Even if your cholesterol levels are healthy, though, you can help protect your brain, heart, and the rest of your body throughout your life by:
- Eating a nutritious diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains
- Exercising regularly
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight
- Not smoking or using other tobacco products
A generally healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward preventing circulatory problems, both now and in the future. If you’d like to have your cholesterol levels or blood pressure checked, you can visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by an experienced health care professional who can provide personalized advice on how to lower your risk of stroke and heart attack.