You’ve probably been told to get your cholesterol numbers checked. But what exactly is cholesterol – and what should you be doing about it?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance within the human body, and it’s vital to many bodily functions. You can’t live without it. Cholesterol also exists in certain foods we eat, particularly those from animals – meat, dairy products and eggs.
So if cholesterol is natural and necessary, what’s the fuss?
Too much cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream can ultimately clog the insides of your arteries, leading to a heart attack, stroke or blockages in the arteries of your legs.
Edward Kersh, M.D., FACC, a cardiologist formerly in the Sutter network, emphasizes that cholesterol is not the only factor leading to heart disease. However, high levels of cholesterol, combined with other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of heart problems, can definitely set the stage for heart disease.