High cholesterol (clinically known as hyperlipidemia) is a common problem for people in the U.S. It’s estimated that around 93 million adults aged 20 and older have cholesterol levels higher than those recommended by the medical establishment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). High cholesterol can put you at risk of developing serious complications such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Since the symptoms of high cholesterol are not usually obvious, it’s important to understand what cholesterol actually is and the common risk factors involved. Here is what you should know…
What Is High Cholesterol?
The first step to achieving healthy cholesterol levels is to understand what they even mean. According to Healthline, cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by your liver. It’s essential for producing cell membranes, vitamin D, and certain hormones.
The problem is that cholesterol does not dissolve in water, so it needs to be transported through the bloodstream. Lipoproteins help make this happen. When you have high cholesterol, fatty deposits build up in your blood vessels (a condition referred to clinically as atherosclerosis). This makes it difficult for blood to flow through your heart, brain, and other important arteries.