This mysterious substance can either be harmful, or helpful to your arteries. The trick is that you should boost the good kind, and reduce the bad one.
Cholesterol performs more than one vital job: The fat like substance is a building block for the intestinal acids that digest your food, it helps keep cell walls healthy, and it makes your body produce all-important vitamin D. Like most things in life, however, an excessive amount of it can be problematic.
“One story that patients usually say is: ‘I heard cholesterol doesn’t really matter anymore, that heart risk is more about inflammation,’ ” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a heart specialist at the mount sinai Hospital and volunteer physician with the american Heart Association’s Go Red for women campaign. Whereas inflammation is important, cholesterol absolutely still matters, she says. One large study revealed in the journal Circulation in 2015, for instance, found that for each decade that somebody was living with high “bad” cholesterol, their probabilities of getting a heart failure or stroke accrued by 40 % above their normal risk level.
But here’s the most important message doctors want to get out: “We have such a lot of control over cholesterol than individuals suppose,” says Dr. Steinbaum—meaning easy, everyday decisions can create a real impact on your cardiovascular health.