In the past, cholesterol was considered to be a man's problem, but women are also at risk of developing high cholesterol. In fact, approximately 1 in 6 adults have high cholesterol in the United States. What do you need to know about it?

What is cholesterol, and where does it come from?

Cholesterol is a lipid, or fat, that's needed for essential bodily processes like rebuilding cells. Your liver produces almost 75 percent of the cholesterol in your body with the rest coming from your diet. What's more, there are different types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Good cholesterol

HDL or "good" cholesterol makes your heart healthier by carrying bad cholesterol to the liver where it's broken down and eliminated. You want your HDL (good) level to be above 50 mg/dL.

Bad cholesterol

When your blood contains more LDL than HDL, or more "bad" than "good" cholesterol, LDL particles stay in the bloodstream. Excess LDL can then clog your arteries and make them hard, and hardened arteries are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke. Your LDL level should be less than, or near, 100 mg/dL.

How to keep your cholesterol in check

To help manage your cholesterol, eat a balanced diet high in fiber and incorporate fruits and vegetables. Also, exercise thirty minutes, three to four days week and don't smoke. Be sure to have your cholesterol tested at least every five years, as well.

To find a doctor or speak to a nurse, call Consult-A-Nurse® at (951) 788-3463, 24 hours a day. Visit our heart page to learn more about our heart care institute.