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High blood cholesterol can affect anyone. It's a serious condition that increases the risk for heart disease, the number one killer of Americans-women and men. The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk. Fortunately, if you have high blood cholesterol, there are steps you can take to lower it and protect your health. This booklet will show you how to take action by following the "TLC Program" for reducing high blood cholesterol. TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, a three-part program that uses diet, physical activity, and weight management. Sometimes, drug treatment also is needed to lower blood cholesterol enough. But even then, the TLC Program should be… followed. The booklet has four main sections: It explains why cholesterol matters and helps you find your heart disease risk; describes the TLC Program; talks about a condition called the metabolic syndrome that can also be treated with TLC; and offers advice on how to make heart healthy lifestyle changes. Within the sections you'll find tips on such topics as how to: communicate better with your doctor and other health care professionals, read food labels, make and stick with lifestyle changes, plan heart healthy menus for the whole family, and make heart healthy choices when you eat out. Anyone can develop high blood cholesterol-everyone can take steps to lower it. Why Cholesterol Matters Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the walls of cells in all parts of the body, from the nervous system to the liver to the heart. The body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and other substances. Two main kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood: Low density lipoprotein, or LDL, which also is called the "bad" Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes cholesterol because it carries cholesterol to tissues, including the arteries. Most of the cholesterol in the blood is the LDL form. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood, the greater your risk for heart disease. High density lipoprotein, or HDL, which also is called the "good" cholesterol because it takes cholesterol from tissues to the liver, which removes it from the body. A low level of HDL cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, some of the excess can become trapped in artery walls. Over time, this builds up and is called plaque. The plaque can narrow vessels and make them less flexible, a condition called atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries." This process can happen to blood vessels anywhere in the body, including those of the heart, which are called the coronary arteries. If the coronary arteries become partly blocked by plaque, then the blood may not be able to bring enough oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. This can cause chest pain, or angina.Because high blood cholesterol affects the coronary arteries, it is a major risk factor for heart disease. Risk factors are causes and conditions that increase your chance of developing a disease. Heart Disease Risk Factors Risk factors are conditions or behaviors that increase your chance of developing a disease. For heart disease, there are two types of risk factors-those you can't change and those you can. Fortunately, most of the heart disease risk factors can be changed. Risk factors you can't change .Age-45 or older for men; 55 or older for women .Family history of early heart disease-father or brother diagnosed before age 55, or mother or sister diagnosed before age 65 Risk factors you can change .Smoking .High blood pressure .High blood cholesterol .Overweight/obesity .Physical inactivity .Diabetes