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Why is managing cholesterol levels good for heart health?

Suzanne Steinbaum, DO
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
A high level of the "bad" cholesterol, LDL, is associated with plaque development in the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Watch cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, discuss how high cholesterol and triglycerides can put you at risk.
Most people have heard that if cholesterol levels are too high it can damage their heart health. But why exactly is cholesterol “bad”?
First, to clarify, not all cholesterol is bad for your health. Your body actually produces some cholesterol naturally to carry out vital functions at the cellular level. Also, your blood carries both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterols. HDL cholesterol actually helps to lower LDL levels and is beneficial. LDL cholesterol is the one that can damage health over time, and is therefore sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your heart and from your heart to the brain and other parts of the body. This build-up of cholesterol eventually narrows arteries and can block blood flow, causing a heart attack, stroke or other serious outcomes.
So managing cholesterol levels is not just good for heart health: it can be a lifesaver. Diet, exercise, medicines and an ongoing conversation with your doctor are your toolkit for achieving healthy cholesterol levels.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.