Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood. It can help to carry oxygen to your cells, and is also important for the production of hormones. However, too much cholesterol can lead to a heart disease, which is when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked.
What are the Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease?
The key risk factors for coronary heart disease are age, family history of the disease, high blood pressure, and smoking or drinking. Based on these factors, a doctor can calculate your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
How is Cholesterol Calculated?
Cholesterol is a lipid found in the blood and is best known for its role in heart disease. In order to calculate your risk of coronary heart disease, your doctor will take into account your blood pressure and smoking/non-drinking habits.
Your cholesterol level is divided by 5 to get your risk of coronary heart disease. For example, if your cholesterol level is 240 mg/dL, your risk would be 16%. If you have high blood pressure (or other risk factors) your doctor may also look at your triglycerides (a type of fat) and HDL cholesterol levels.
What If I am at a Lower Risk?
If you have good cholesterol levels and are not currently smoking, your risk of heart disease is low. However, if you have high cholesterol levels or smoke, your risk of heart disease is increased. If you are at a lower risk for heart disease, it is important to check your cholesterol levels on a regular basis.
What If I Am Obese?
If you are obese, your doctor may check your cholesterol levels. Based on your blood pressure and smoking/non-drinking habits, the risk of coronary heart disease can be calculated. If you have high cholesterol, you may need to make changes to your diet or exercise more.
Can Statins Reduce the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease?
Doctors check your cholesterol levels, Based on blood pressure and smoking/non-drinking habits, the risk of coronary heart disease can be calculated. Statins can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50%. If you have high cholesterol levels, discuss with your doctor whether statins are right for you.
What If My Blood Pressure is high?
If your blood pressure is high, your doctor might recommend that you take medication to lower it. If your blood pressure is still high after taking the medication, your doctor might refer you to a cardiologist to check your heart health. Smoking and drinking habits can also influence your heart health. If you smoke, you are more likely to have high blood pressure, and if you drink alcohol, you are more likely to have coronary heart disease.
What If I Smoke or Drink?
If you smoke or drink, your doctor will also check your cholesterol levels to see if they’re a risk factor for heart disease.
If you’re looking to reduce your risk of heart disease, doctors will first check your cholesterol levels. Based on blood pressure and smoking/non-drinking habits, the risk of coronary heart disease can be calculated. If you have a high risk, steps may need to be taken to lower that risk – such as quitting smoking or reducing your alcohol intake.