Your body needs cholesterol to work well. But cholesterol levels that are too high can harm you.
Extra cholesterol in your blood builds up inside the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. Plaque reduces, or even stops, the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack, stroke, or other serious heart disease.
Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Most people should have their blood cholesterol levels tested at least every 5 years once they reach ages 20 - 45. Have your cholesterol checked more often (probably every year) if you have:
Getting plenty of exercise will also help. Talk with your doctor about what kind of exercise might be best for you.
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A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine(10/7/2010).