High cholesterol is one of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. High cholesterol does not cause damage for days or weeks. Over years, however, high blood cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of cardiovascular disease.
Several studies have looked at the effects of cholesterol treatment to prevent cardiovascular disease. These cholesterol research studies have shown that the progress of cardiovascular disease may be stopped by reducing cholesterol. In some cases, it may even be reversed. This results in fewer people developing and dying from cardiovascular disease. It also lowers the number of people with cardiovascular disease who have another heart attack or stroke or die from heart disease or stroke.
For good cardiovascular health, you should have your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked (through a lipid panel test) at least once every five years. If your triglyceride or cholesterol levels are high, talk to your doctor about what you can do to lower them. You may be able to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels by eating better (see Low Cholesterol Diet) and exercising more (see Exercise and Cholesterol). Your doctor also may prescribe medication to help lower cholesterol.
(Click Lowering Cholesterol for more information.)