The Good and the Bad About Cholesterol

It’s lunchtime and you’re faced with two choices. The first option is a juicy burger and French fries. The second option is a nutritious-looking salad, piled high with colorful veggies. Our mind says one thing, but our stomach and impulse control are tempted to act on the other. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 out of 3 American adults has high cholesterol, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke. There aren’t any signs or symptoms with high cholesterol. The only way to know if you have it is to get tested… and that’s where your local Any Lab Test Now® can help.

The Good and the Bad

First off, let’s understand some cholesterol basics. There are two types of cholesterol.

  1. Dietary cholesterol is the type that you have some control over! It comes from the things we eat, like a hamburger and fries (high!) vs. a salad (low).
  2. Cholesterol is also produced by your body. Your liver uses it to help you digest food and make certain hormones. Genetics can play a role in this, as do age and gender.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream on proteins called “lipoproteins.” This is where the good and the bad part comes into play.

  • LDL – LOW-DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN – this is the type of cholesterol that will raise your risk for heart disease and stroke, and it makes up most of the cholesterol in your body. It’s what is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol.
  • HDL – HIGH-DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN – this type of lipoprotein absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it’s filtered out of the body. High levels of HDL can actually lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, which is why it’s sometimes called “good” cholesterol.

When your body has too much of the “bad” cholesterol, it can build up along the walls of your blood vessels, blocking the flow of blood, leading to heart attacks and strokes. There are steps you can take to make things better, but you have to know where you stand!

Take Control of Your Health

You don’t have to wait for the worst to happen. You can take control of your health now, and you can start with a simple blood test. Your local Any Lab Test Now offers the basic Lipid Panel which can provide you and your doctor with a wealth of information about your risks. The Lipid Panel will provide you with the following information:

  • LDL Level
  • HDL Level
  • Total Cholesterol
  • HDL/LDL Ratio
  • Triglyceride Level

The Lipid Panel is a great way to establish a baseline reading, so doctors can watch for any increases or decreases as time goes by. Based on that information, you and your doctor may find it beneficial to start (or stop) cholesterol-lowering medications. The Lipid Panel is a simple blood test, but we recommend that you fast at least eight hours before your specimen collection.

More to Consider

If you and your physician decide that cholesterol-lowering medications are the way to go, then he or she might recommend that you take the Cholesterol Medication Maintenance Panel. This panel includes the Lipid Panel, so you can check the medications’ effectiveness. And, because some of the cholesterol-lowering medicines can have an effect on the liver, it also includes the Liver Function Panel.

Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise is key to optimal health, but don’t forget that knowledge plays an important role as well. Stop by your local Any Lab Test Now location and see where you stand.

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