Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance that can be found in all parts of the body. It aids in the production of cell membranes, some hormones, and vitamin D. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood stream, it can be deposited in your arteries, causing plaque build-up that can make it difficult for your blood to flow. This causes strain on your heart and can lead to chest pains, difficulty breathing, and eventual heart attack.
High cholesterol is caused by a number of factors including eating foods high in fat, such as chips and cookies, fried foods, and fast food; inactivity and being overweight; smoking; a family history of heart disease; and certain medications.
If you have high cholesterol, you will not feel any symptoms, so it’s important to have a simple blood test during an annual physical to determine your cholesterol levels. You can control cholesterol levels by staying active and exercising several times a week and maintaining a healthy diet that’s low in fat and processed foods. If you are a smoker, the sooner you quit smoking the better it is for your overall health. If you have a family history of heart problems, talk to you doctor about medications that can control cholesterol levels.