Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made by the liver. Cholesterol is also found in certain foods that we eat such as dairy products, eggs, meat and some shellfish, fried and processed foods. 

Cholesterol is important for the body and it is found in all cells of the body. Cholesterol is needed so that the body can make hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol helps build healthy cells but when your cholesterol levels in your blood are too high, this increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The only way to test for cholesterol is to do a blood test.  Some pharmacies and even your doctor may have a “point-of-care” cholesterol testing machine.  Your pharmacist or doctor will merely prick your finger, place a little drop of blood on a test strip, and insert it into the machine.  Normally within about 5 minutes, you will get a result.

The other method is for your doctor to draw blood and send it off to the laboratory – it normally takes at least a day to get the results.  If you have diabetes, you should have your cholesterol tested regularly, and if your levels are raised your doctor will prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication for you along with healthy eating and exercise.

If your cholesterol levels are above or below the recommended levels your doctor will advise you to start with a healthy eating plan and exercise. If this does not bring your cholesterol down, he may start you on medication to treat your cholesterol.

Additional risk factors for heart attacks and stroke

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Low HDL Cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Overweight / Obese
  • Diabetes