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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

High Cholesterol

Overview

Your doctor says you have high cholesterol. You know that's not good. But what is cholesterol, exactly? Why is it in your blood vessels, and why is high cholesterol bad for you?

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance. It's found in the fats that are in your blood. Your body uses cholesterol to build healthy cells. There are actually two different types of cholesterol in your blood. One type is called "good" cholesterol. The other is called "bad" cholesterol. When your doctor says you have "high cholesterol," that generally means you have too much of the bad cholesterol.

How does it hurt you?

The bad cholesterol collects on the walls of your blood vessels. It forms fatty deposits that narrow your vessels. It's hard for your blood to flow past these deposits. And your heart and brain may not get the amount of blood they need. This increases your risk for things like coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.

Why is my cholesterol too high?

Your cholesterol level may be too high because of your lifestyle. An unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise can cause it. Smoking and diabetes are factors that raise your risk. And, you can also have high cholesterol because of your genetics.

Treatment

High cholesterol is treated with a healthier lifestyle and with medications. Ask your doctor to create a care plan that helps you lower your cholesterol.