Cholesterol and triglycerides are fat-like substances produced by your body plus consumed through what you eat. Although the cells of your body need both, excesses of either cholesterol or triglycerides or both can build up in your blood vessels. When this happens it can cause your blood vessels to narrow which in turn reduces blood flow to your heart.
As for cholesterol, there are two kinds– ‘good’ cholesterol, or HDL, and LDL, which is “bad” cholesterol. HDL helps take excess cholesterol out of your arteries so that it can be removed from your body. LDL can build up in the walls of your arteries which can reduce blood flow. High levels of LDL may cause heart disease.
Triglycerides (a.k.a. TGs) are another type of fat found in your blood. It is also stored in your body fat. High triglyceride levels can also increase your risk of heart disease. With your cholesterol and triglycerides both high, it puts you at a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
Who is more likely to have high cholesterol?
Typically, it was always thought that any adult 20 or older can have high cholesterol. However, doctors are finding high cholesterol levels in children, too. Usually there are no symptoms. If some of your family members have it, you could, too. If that is the case, tell your doctor so you can get tested and, if you test high, get a plan to reduce your levels; a plan that will work for you. You should also have your triglycerides checked. The steps you can take to help lower your blood lipids include diet, exercise, and medicine.
There are no outward physical symptoms of either high triglycerides or high cholesterol. You need to have your blood checked for both of these. It is a simple blood test taken after you have been fasting overnight. Anyone over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol checked at least once to establish a baseline. How often after that is determined by the results of your first test, your family history and your overall medical condition.