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CHOLESTEROL FACT SHEET

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                                   Cholesterol Fact Sheet


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     Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body. Cholesterol is needed for
      the body to function normally. Your body makes enough cholesterol for its needs. When
      there is too much cholesterol in your body, it is deposited in arteries, including those of
                                                                                     1
      the heart, which can lead to narrowing of the arteries and to heart disease.

     Cholesterol is carried in the blood in particles called lipoproteins. These particles are
      made up of cholesterol on the inside and protein on the outside. There are two kinds of
      lipoproteins:
          o Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the major type of lipoprotein that carries
               cholesterol in the bloodstream to the body. These are the type that can lead to a
               buildup of cholesterol in the arteries and lead to heart disease.
          o High-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol back to the liver to remove it
                                                                             2
               from the body. Higher levels of HDL are considered good.

     According to the National Cholesterol Education Project (NCEP), desirable or optimal
      cholesterol levels for adults with or without existing heart disease are:
          o Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable, anything above
              240 mg/dL is deemed to be high.
          o Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol): Less than 100
              mg/dL is considered optimal while between 100 mg/dL and 129 mg/dL is
              considered near or above optimal.
          o High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ("good" cholesterol): between 40
              mg/dL and 60 mg/dL.
                                                     3
          o Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL.

     Over 105 million American adults have total blood cholesterol values of 200 mg/dL and
                                                                            4
      higher, and 36.6 million American adults have levels of 240 or above.

     High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death
      in the United States. About 17% of adult Americans, 20 years and older, have high blood
      cholesterol (240 mg/dL or more total cholesterol). The average blood cholesterol level in
                                            5
      adult Americans is about 203 mg/dL.

     An excess of either total or LDL cholesterol in the blood is a risk for heart disease and
      atherosclerosis. Most of the excess cholesterol comes from diet. Cholesterol can build
      up on the artery walls of your body. This buildup is called plaque. Over time, plaque can
      cause the arteries to become narrow, which is called atherosclerosis. As a result, less
      oxygen–rich blood can pass through. When the arteries that carry blood to the heart are
      affected, coronary artery disease can result. A heart attack occurs when a coronary
                                           6
      artery becomes completely blocked.

     High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so many people may not know
      that their cholesterol level is too high. Simple blood tests can be done to check your total,
      LDL and HDL cholesterol levels and other types of fats in the blood (such as
                    7
      triglycerides.



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         A number of things can affect the cholesterol levels in your blood. These include the
          following:
               o Diet. Certain foods have types of fat that raise your cholesterol level. These
                   types of fats include saturated fat, trans fatty acids or trans fats, and dietary
                   cholesterol. Saturated fats come largely from animal fat in the diet, but also some
                                                     8
                   vegetable oils such as palm oil.
               o Weight. Being overweight tends to increase LDL levels, lowers HDL levels, and
                                                      9
                   increases total cholesterol level.
               o Physical Inactivity. Lack of regular physical activity can lead to weight gain,
                                                                   10
                   which could raise your LDL cholesterol level.
               o Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families. An inherited genetic
                   condition results in very high LDL cholesterol levels. This condition is called
                                                   11
                   familial hypercholesterolemia.
               o Age and Sex. As people get older, their LDL cholesterol levels tend to rise. Men
                   tend to have lower HDL levels than women. Younger women tend to have lower
                                                                                                  12
                   LDL levels than men, but higher levels at older ages (after age 55 years).

         An adult can help control their cholesterol levels by taking the following lifestyle steps:
              o Maintain a Healthy Diet. An overall healthy diet can help to maintain normal
                  blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol tend to
                  raise blood cholesterol levels. Other types of fats, such as monounsaturated and
                  polyunsaturated fats can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Getting enough
                                                                                13
                  soluble fiber in the diet can also help to lower cholesterol.
              o Maintain a Healthy Weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your bad
                  cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help you lower your blood cholesterol
                  levels. Healthy weight status in adults is usually assessed by using weight and
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                  height to compute a number called the "body mass index" (BMI).
              o Be Active. Physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight and lower
                  blood cholesterol levels. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should
                  engage in moderate–level physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days
                               15
                  of the week.
              o No Tobacco. Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the process of
                                              16
                  hardening of the arteries.
              o Medications. If you are found to have high blood cholesterol, your doctor may
                  prescribe medications, in addition to lifestyle changes, to help bring it under
                  control. The primary focus of treatment is to get LDL cholesterol under control.
                  Your treatment plan and goal will depend on your LDL level and your level of risk
                  for heart disease and stroke. Your risk for heart disease and stroke will be based
                  on whether you also have other risk factors and may include your blood pressure
                  level or high blood pressure treatment, smoking status, age, HDL level, family
                  history of early heart disease, and existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
                  People with existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes are considered high
                        17
                  risk.


1
 Center for Disease Control, Cholesterol. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/. Accessed August 24, 2007.
2
 Center for Disease Control, About High Blood Cholesterol. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/about.htm. Accessed August
24, 2007.
3
 NIH, National Cholesterol Education Project. Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood
Cholesterol in Adults. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/atp3xsum.pdf. Accessed September 24, 2007.
4
  The American Heart Association, Cholesterol Statistics. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=536.
Accessed August 24, 2007.
5
 Center for Disease Control, Cholesterol. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/. Accessed August 24, 2007.
6
 Center for Disease Control, About High Blood Cholesterol. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/about.htm. Accessed August
24, 2007.
7
 Center for Disease Control, About Cholesterol. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/about.htm. Accessed August 24, 2007.
8
  Center for Disease Control, High Blood Cholesterol Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/prevention.htm.
Accessed August 24, 2007.


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9
 Ibid
10
  Ibid
11
  Ibid
12
  Ibid
13
  Ibid
14
  Ibid
15
  Ibid
16
  Ibid
17
  Ibid




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