Blood Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver or consumed in certain foods. It is needed by the body, and the liver makes enough for the body's needs. When there is too much cholesterol in the body-because of diet and the rate at which the cholesterol is processed-it is deposited in arteries, including those of the heart. This can lead to narrowing of the arteries, heart disease, and other complications.
Some cholesterol is often termed "good," and some often termed "bad." A higher level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is considered "good," and gives some protection against heart disease. Higher levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, are considered "bad" and can lead to heart disease. A lipoprotein profile can be done to measure several different forms of cholesterol, as well as triglycerides (another kind of fat) in the blood.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is another major risk factor for heart disease. It is a condition where the pressure of the blood in the arteries is too high. There are often no symptoms to signal high blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure by changes in lifestyle or by medication can lower the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Diabetes also increases a person's risk for heart disease. With diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin, can't use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. This causes sugars to build up in the blood. About three-quarters of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. For people with diabetes, it is important to work with a healthcare provider to help in managing it and controlling other risk factors.