Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by the liver or found in certain foods. Your liver makes enough for your body’s needs, but we often get more cholesterol from the foods we eat. If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the extra cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries, including those of the heart. This leads to narrowing of the arteries and can decrease the blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other parts of the body. This can be a risk factor associated with Cardiovascular Disease.
Some cholesterol is “good,” and some is “bad.” High cholesterol is the term used for high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which are considered “bad” because they can lead to heart disease. A higher level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is considered “good” because it provides some protection against heart disease.
A blood test can detect the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides (a related kind of fat) in your blood so that your provider can assess the types and levels of cholesterol and determine if your measures are within a healthy range.
As of 2017, 83% of adult Vermonters have had a cholesterol check in the past 5 years, inching closer to the Healthy Vermonters target of 85%. This measure has been stable for the past 10 years until this most recent increase.