R. Morgan Griffin is a full-time freelance writer and editor
living in Easthampton, MA. In addition to his feature articles for WebMD,
he's written stories for magazines and web sites such as Us Weekly,
Intelihealth.com, and GayHealth.com. He has a master's in English from
the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The average American has cholesterol levels that are ‘borderline high,’ and 1 in 6 has a high level. You may wonder whether something so common can really be a serious health risk. The truth is: Absolutely.
"If you look at populations of people, the higher the cholesterol, the higher the level of heart and blood vessel disease," says Laurence Sperling, MD, head of preventive cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. It's that simple.
You call it high cholesterol. Your doctor calls it hyperlipidemia. Either way, it's a common problem.
The Basics: Treatments for High Cholesterol
Low cholesterol protects your heart from several chronic diseases. What can keep your levels in check?
American Heart Association: "Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol," "About Cholesterol."<br />National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC." Mayo Clinic: "High...
Your body makes cholesterol, and you also get it when you eat eggs, meats, and dairy products. When you have more than your body needs, cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. This thick, hard plaque can clog your arteries like a blocked pipe. Reduced blood flow can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
How High Cholesterol CausesHeart Attack: If there is a clog in a coronary artery, your heart gets too little blood and oxygen. Without enough oxygen, your heart becomes weak and damaged. If the plaque breaks open, a blood clot may form on top of the buildup, further blocking blood flow. Or, a blood clot can break off and flow to an artery in another part of the body. If a clot completely blocks an artery feeding your heart, you have a heart attack.