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HomeHealth 2

The Basics of Cholesterol

 Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs, and meat. The body needs some cholesterol in order to function properly.

Its cell walls, or membranes, need cholesterol in order to produce hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. But, the body needs only a small amount of cholesterol to meet its needs. When too much is present health problems such as heart disease may develop.

Cholesterol and Heart Disease

When too much cholesterol is present, plaque (a thick, hard deposit) may form in the body's arteries narrowing the space for blood to flow to the heart. Over time, this buildup causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which can lead to heart disease.

Types of Cholesterol

Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to a protein -- this cholesterol-protein package is called a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are classified as high density, low density, depending on how much protein there is in relation to fat.

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL): LDL, also called "bad" cholesterol, can cause buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. The more LDL there is in the blood, the greater the risk of heart disease.
  • High density lipoproteins (HDL): HDL, also called "good" cholesterol, helps the body get rid of bad cholesterol in the blood. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better. If your levels of HDL are low, your risk of heart disease increases.
  • Triglycerides: Triglycerides are another type of fat that is carried in the blood by very low density lipoproteins. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body.

Risk Factors

  • Obesity 
  • Genetic factors
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease / Stroke

Treatment for High Cholesterol

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Medication (prescribed by your physician)

Know Your Numbers:

  • Total Cholesterol: < 200
  • HDL > 60
  • LDL < 70
  • Triglycerides < 150

PSA – (Prostate-specific antigen)

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or an enlarged prostate.  This is a part of your normal blood test done during your physical exam. The test involves drawing blood, usually from the arm. The results are sent to a laboratory.  Results come back to your physician within a few days.

When Should I Have My PSA Levels Tested?

PSA blood tests and digital rectal exams should be done every year for men beginning at age 50. It is recommended that PSA blood test be done for African American men beginning at age 40 and for all men if there is a history of prostate cancer in the family.

If your doctor is concerned that you might have prostate cancer based on either your PSA level or a digital rectal exam, a biopsy (a lab testing of a small amount of tissue from the prostate) will be the next step This is the only way to positively identify the presence of cancer.

Know your PSA Level

  • PSA level < 4 (suggests only 15 % chance of having prostate cancer)
  • PSA level of 4-10 (suggests 25 % chance of having prostate cancer)
  • PSA level > 10 (suggest 67% chance of having prostate cancer)


What is gout?

Gout is a kind of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that results from normal body processes and is also found in some foods. Most of the time, having too much uric acid is not harmful. Many people with high levels in their blood never get gout. When uric acid levels in the blood are too high, the uric acid may form hard crystals in your joints. Your chances of getting gout are higher if you are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat too much meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines. Some medicines, such as water pills (diuretics), can also bring on gout. Normally, the kidneys eliminate uric acid from the body in urine. A buildup of uric acid in the body may cause kidney stones, kidney damage, or a form of arthritis called gout. This may occur when the body produces too much uric acid or when the kidneys cannot eliminate uric acid adequately. Medication and diet changes can reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.