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5 Fast Facts About Cholesterol

Learn more about this substance in your blood, which the body needs, just not too much.

gray-haired woman jogging

As part of CSL’s ongoing commitment to cardiovascular disease research, our scientists are focusing on new ways to remove cholesterol from artery walls as a target for innovation. In recognition of Cholesterol Education Month, we've compiled a few tips to help explain the serious risks associated with cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance needed to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. But too much cholesterol can pose the problem of buildup of plaques in arteries.

What can high cholesterol lead to and what are the risk factors?

High cholesterol can make a person more at risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk even more.

What is cholesterol efflux?

Cholesterol efflux is the body’s natural process of counteracting cholesterol buildup. The human body cannot break down cholesterol, but relies on a process called cholesterol efflux to remove the cholesterol that has accumulated in arterial plaque. A protein called apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), is the key functional component of HDL, which facilitates removal of cholesterol from arterial vessels then transports cholesterol to the liver for elimination

What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol usually has no symptoms so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high until it is too late – such as when they have a heart attack or stroke.

What steps can be taken to lower cholesterol?

The answer is a heart-healthy diet and physical activity. From a dietary standpoint, the best way to lower cholesterol is to eat fewer foods containing saturated fats and trans fats. A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and non-tropical vegetable oils, while limiting red and processed meats, sodium and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.

When it comes to physical activity, get moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling or even yard work. Studies have found that at least 150 minutes per week is enough to lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Learn more from the experts at the American Heart Association and the CDC:

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol Myths and Facts

Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol