High cholesterol is often called "the silent killer" because for most people there are no obvious signs and symptoms to look out for. In most cases it only causes emergency events. For instance, a heart attack or stroke can result from the damage caused by high cholesterol. These events typically don't occur until high cholesterol leads to the formation of plaque in your arteries. Plaque can narrow arteries so less blood can pass through. The formation of plaque changes the makeup of your arterial lining. This could lead to serious complications. A blood test is the only way to know if your cholesterol is too high. This means having a total blood cholesterol level above 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Ask your doctor to give you a cholesterol test after you turn 20 years old. Then get your cholesterol rechecked every 4 to 6 years.
Your doctor may also suggest you have your cholesterol checked more frequently if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Or if you demonstrate the following risk factors:
Control High Cholesterol
Lifestyle changes can help reduce cholesterol, keep you off cholesterol-lowering medications or enhance the effect of your medications. Here are five lifestyle changes to get you started.
1. Eat heart-healthy foods
Even if you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt, making a few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health.
-Eliminate trans fats
-Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
-Increase soluble fiber
Adding physical activity, even in 10-minute intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Just be sure that you can keep up the changes you decide to make. Consider:
-Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
-Riding your bike to work
-Playing a favorite sport
If you smoke, stop. Quitting might improve your HDL cholesterol level. And the benefits don't end there. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked.