Cholesterol is a building block of our body’s cells. The liver makes cholesterol. Cholesterol travels to the body’s cells in the blood. We all need some cholesterol, but our bodies can make all the cholesterol we need. Certain foods are an added source of cholesterol.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you will at first be advised to make changes to your diet and increase your level of exercise. After a few months, if your cholesterol level has not dropped, you will usually be advised to take cholesterol-lowering medication.
When you have too much bad (LDL) cholesterol in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries. This build-up is called plaque (pronounced “plak”). Plaque can narrow your arteries and make it harder for blood to flow. Plaque can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Keeping bad cholesterol at a low level can help avoid these problems.
For many people, making changes to their lifestyle — eating better, losing weight, and exercising — will be enough to lower cholesterol. Others may benefit from medicines. Often, a combination of these approaches is the right choice.