Cholesterol is bad, right? Wrong! Cholesterol is found in every cell in the body, and it is necessary for good health.
The problem with cholesterol is that some people have too much of it in their blood. This leads to the development of fatty deposits (called plaques) that stick to the inside walls of the blood vessels. Eventually, the plaques can build up so much that they make it difficult for enough blood to flow through the arteries. If the heart doesn’t get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, it can lead to a heart attack. If the brain doesn’t get enough blood, the result can be a stroke.
But, that’s just part of the story. Not all cholesterol is the same, and not all of it is bad. The type of cholesterol that builds up on artery walls is called low density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol. Because of its role in causing plaques to form, LDL is often referred to as “bad cholesterol.” There is another type of cholesterol called high density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol that helps the body get rid of excess LDL cholesterol. This has earned HDL the name “good cholesterol.”
People should aim to maintain the right balance of HDL and LDL cholesterol. Healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a low-fat, fibre-rich diet and getting regular physical activity can help, but some people also need to take medicine to manage their cholesterol levels.
Your Sobeys Pharmacist will be happy to answer any questions you have about cholesterol or cholesterol-lowering medications.