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Chronic Conditions

High Cholesterol

Good and Bad Cholesterol - Cholesterol Screening - How to Reduce Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is produced by your body and is also found in foods that come from animal sources (meat and dairy products, poultry, and fish). Your body's cells need cholesterol to function properly. However, it is common for excess cholesterol in the blood to build up inside your arteries (atherosclerosis), causing them to narrow. Atherosclerosis is the starting point for most heart and circulation problems.

Good and Bad Cholesterol

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Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream attached to protein, in a combination called a lipoprotein. Two lipoproteins are the main carriers of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Triglycerides are another type of fat that can be found in the bloodstream. A high triglyceride level may also increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease and having a stroke.

Cholesterol Screening

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Experts don't agree on the best schedule for cholesterol testing. You and your doctor can determine the schedule that is best for you based on your risk factors for coronary artery disease. One recommendation is to start cholesterol screening at age 35 for men and age 45 for women.

Basic cholesterol screening tests are easy, quick, and inexpensive. Call your local health unit or public health office to find out when free or low-cost cholesterol tests may be available.

If your total cholesterol is over 5.2 mmol/L (millimoles per litre), or if you have any of the following risk factors for coronary artery disease, you may want to have your cholesterol checked more often:

If your total cholesterol is over 5.2 mmol/L, and you don't know what your HDL and LDL levels are, more extensive testing can help you better estimate your actual risk.

How to Reduce Your Cholesterol

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For most people, a low-fat diet and exercise are all that are needed to lower cholesterol. People who have very high cholesterol or already have coronary artery disease (or who are at very high risk for CAD) may need medication as well as exercise and a low-fat diet to lower their cholesterol.

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