High cholesterol is most often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, but one’s genes can also play a role. “There are genetic conditions that can lead to either overproduction of cholesterol, or, more commonly the inability to break down excess cholesterol,” Dr. Tania Elliott, Chief Medical Officer of EHE, says.
These conditions usually run in families, so if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart attacks, or heart disease at a young age, get your cholesterol checked, she adds.
Most of the talk about cholesterol focuses on potential for harmful health effects. But cholesterol is also important so the body can produce hormones, vitamin D, and enzymes needed for digestion.
Think of LDL “bad” cholesterol as the bad person who throws trash all over, making roads unpassable. HDL “good” cholesterol is, using the same logic, the nice person picking up the trash, clearing the way.
A person’s cholesterol levels tend to rise as one gets older. There are usually no signs or symptoms, but it can be detected with a blood test.
People who are 20+ years of age are recommended to check their cholesterol at least once a year. You are likely to have high levels if you are overweight or obese, if you eat a lot of fatty foods, and if you have a family history.