Controlling Cholesterol to Avoid a Stroke
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. High cholesterol does not cause damage over days, weeks, or months. Rather, over years, high blood cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing or complete blockage of arteries because of the buildup of plaque. Both arteries in the brain and neck are affected by plaque buildup.
Research studies have shown that the progress of atherosclerosis may be stopped by lowering cholesterol levels. In some cases, it may even be reversed. This results in fewer people developing and dying from stroke. It also reduces the number of people with a history of stroke having another stroke or dying from another stroke.
You should have your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked (with a lipid panel test) at least once every five years; however, if you have risk factors for heart disease, your healthcare provider may recommend that you have your cholesterol monitored more frequently. If your triglyceride or cholesterol levels are high, talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to lower them. You may be able to lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by eating better (see Low Cholesterol Diet) and exercising more (see Exercise and Cholesterol). Your healthcare provider may also prescribe cholesterol medication.
(Click Lowering Cholesterol for more information on treating high cholesterol.)