Medically reviewed on May 11, 2023 by Morgan Spicer, Medical Communications Manager. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Heart health is a term used to describe how well your cardiovascular system is working. To help measure your heart health, your healthcare provider may order a lipid panel, which includes blood tests that measure total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels. 
Self Reflection: Why is heart health important to you?
Lipids are fat-like substances that play an important role in your body’s cells. These fats are the most common :
Self Reflection: What did you learn from your most recent lipid test results?
Cholesterol isn’t all bad. Your body needs a certain amount of it to maintain cells and make hormones. But when your cholesterol gets too high, it can form plaques that stick to the walls of your arteries.  These plaques can build up over time and cause your arteries to become narrow or blocked, which can lead to serious health complications. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) results from a lifelong progression of plaque buildup that restricts blood flow to your organs. When blood flow to your heart or brain is blocked, it can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart disease, or stroke. If you smoke or have high blood pressure or diabetes, your risk of heart disease increases. 
High cholesterol or high triglycerides usually have no symptoms. Some people can have high levels for years without knowing it. That’s why it’s so important to get tested regularly to check your lipid levels. Your healthcare provider can help you understand your individual heart health risks.
Self Reflection: What information or questions can you bring to your healthcare provider to help assess your ASCVD risk?
Cardiovascular disease is typically treated with lifestyle changes, but in some cases medication may be necessary. If lifestyle changes alone don’t lower your cholesterol, your healthcare provider may recommend a medication like a statin. Whether or not you need to be on a statin depends on your cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease. [1,3]
Statins work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes naturally and removing cholesterol already circulating in your blood. This helps lower your risk of heart attack or stroke.  Statins can also help lower triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. If your healthcare provider prescribes a statin, take your statin as prescribed, be sure to report any new or worsening symptoms right away, and follow up with regular lipid testing and appointments as recommended.
Self Reflection: What steps can you take right now to live a heart healthy life?