Two of the biggest threats of having high cholesterol are the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. However, you may be amazed at how much bad cholesterol really does affect your entire body, from your head to your toes. It affects each system of your body, which is why you really should get your cholesterol tested often, and watch what you eat.

Once your doctor discovers that your bad cholesterol (LDL) is high and that your good cholesterol (HDL) levels aren’t doing anything to help, they can prescribe you with medications, and a recommended diet plan, that can help change your levels. Medications are great, but you also need to make some lifestyle changes.

Start An Exercise Routine

While eating, and early detection, are probably the two most important factors in controlling your blood pressure, you also need to exercise. Your weight is a huge (no pun intended) contributing factor to your heart health, and your overall health as well. If your waistline is larger than it should be it greatly increases your chances of heart disease.

Make time for the recommended amount of daily physical activity, which is 30 minutes a day. Even if all you can get in is a walk and a short game of tag with the kids or fetch with the dog, every little bit helps. However, you should make time for a good cardio workout at least three times a week to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

Change Your Diet Habits

A healthy diet is the number one key to living a healthy life. That means following the recommended daily allowances from the USDA. It means eating your fruits and vegetables, cutting sugars out of your diet, limiting salt, eating whole grains, lean meats, and picking low- or no-fat dairy products. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store for the healthiest food options.

It’s not just about what you eat either though. It’s also about how much you eat and when you eat it. These days restaurants go way overboard with portions, so it is important to know proper food portions. Don’t eat anything for a few hours before bed, and make breakfast your biggest meal of the day, since you have more time to work it off.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

The only way to know that you have high cholesterol, or any other health problems for that matter, is to go to your doctor for a checkup. Your cholesterol can be easily tested with a simple blood draw. The panel with give your levels, including that of your good cholesterol. If your levels are bad your doctor will go over medication and lifestyle change options.

Living a healthy life also includes limiting your alcohol intake, quitting smoking if you’re a smoker, and simply working on having a more positive attitude. If you are negative all the time it can lead to depression, which can lead to unhealthy habits and overeating, which can lead, ultimately, to health issue like high cholesterol and heart disease.