High cholesterol is strongly connected to cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Nearly 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day -- an average of one death every 38 seconds.
Cholesterol is a type of fat called a lipid. The body uses it for many things, such as making new cells. Your liver makes the cholesterol that your body needs. You also get cholesterol from the foods you eat.
Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to a protein. This package of cholesterol (a lipid) and protein is called a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are either high-density or low-density, based on how much protein and fat they have.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the "bad" cholesterol. LDL is mostly fat with only a small amount of protein.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the "good" cholesterol. HDL is more protein than fat. It helps clear the bad cholesterol from your blood so it does not clog your arteries. A high level of HDL can protect you from a heart attack.
Your total cholesterol number, compare your number to the following:
" Best is less than 200.
" Borderline-high is 200 to 239.
" High is 240 or above.
Sources: HealthDay and Healthwise