Cholesterol is an fat-like organic molecule, or carbon compound, made by all animal cells, including the human variety. All cells need it for their cell membranes, and the liver makes it for production of hormones and vitamin D. Our bodies make all the cholesterol we need. Cholesterol is also found in meat and dairy products.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol through the blood vessels, where it can settle in blood vessel walls and form plaque, narrowing blood vessel walls.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol back to the liver, where it can be removed from the body.
Too much LDL-cholesterol can lead to heart and blood vessel disease when arteries become clogged. When the coronary arteries, which feed blood directly to heart muscle, are clogged, the heart does not get enough oxygen or nutrients to pump, and a heart attack can result. If arteries carrying blood to the brain are clogged, a stroke can take place.
Normal Cholesterol Levels
Normal blood cholesterol: 125 to 180 mg/dL
Normal blood LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
Normal blood HDL cholesterol: 50 mg/dL or more
Prevention of high cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in meat and dairy products only. Eating a diet low in meat, eggs, and whole milk and high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains will help to lower cholesterol levels. Regular exercise helps to raise HDL levels and the ratio of HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol.
The most common medications used for high cholesterol are ‘statins’. They work by slowing down production of cholesterol and drawing the molecule out of plaque.
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)–usual dose is 10 to 20 mg by mouth per day
- Lescol (fluvastatin)––usual dose is 40 mg by mouth twice daily
- Altoprev (lovastatin)–usual dose is 20 mg by mouth with dinner
- Livalo (pitavastatin)–usual dose is 4 mg by mouth once a day
- Pravachol (pravastatin)–usual dose starts at 40 mg by mouth per day, may increase as needed
- Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium)–usual dose is 20 to 40 mg by mouth per day
- Zocor (simvastatin)–usual dose is 10 to 40 mg taken orally once a day
Did you know our doctors can prescribe you Lipitor online, as well as any of the other statins–via video, phone or chat. Your prescription is sent over to your pharmacy in minutes.