Cholesterol is a type of lipid (a fat-like substance) found in every cell of our body. Cholesterol becomes a precursor for several heart-related diseases when it starts accumulating on the inner walls of blood vessels, thus restricting the normal flow of blood, and causing problems like varying levels of blood pressure, hypertension, heart attack, etc. It is advisable to keep cholesterol levels in check in order to ensure a healthy heart functioning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that since high levels of cholesterol in the blood don’t necessarily show symptoms, it becomes important to keep a check on it by regular testing.
The CDC recommends testing:
- Every 5 years for people aged more than 20 and are at low risk for cardiovascular disease.
- More frequently than every 5 years for people who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Depending upon factors like genetic history and obesity levels, the doctor can ask to get it checked more often.
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The American Heart Association, a non-profit organisation, dedicated to heart health has listed some guidelines for getting cholesterol checked.
It states that the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) component of cholesterol is responsible for various heart diseases when accumulated over a long period of time, and increases risk factors for complications. On the other hand, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) helps to reduce the harmful effects of bad cholesterol.
The research done by the organisation also states that men are comparatively at a higher risk than women for having high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol levels can be regulated by following a healthy lifestyle, cutting down on smoking and being physically active. At least two and a half hours of regular moderate exercise in a week is recommended by health experts, along with a healthy balanced diet that is low on trans fats and saturated fats.
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