Cholesterol, despite its negative connotation, is actually a beneficial substance made by the body to be a structural building block for cells, to aid in digestion and to help in the production of hormones. Having levels of cholesterol in the blood that are too high, however, can contribute to heart disease an increased risk for heart attack and/or stroke. Lifestyle changes like eating more fruits, vegetables and fiber, eliminating saturated fats from your diet and exercising can lower your cholesterol, but some individuals may require medication in order to bring their levels down. Statins are the most effective medications for lowering cholesterol. They work by targeting the process in the liver by which cholesterol is made. Rarely, statins can cause muscle pain and/or liver damage, so your doctor will order blood tests periodically to ensure no harm is being done. If you have never been tested for high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about a simple blood test that will measure your levels of both good and bad cholesterol in the blood. Even active, healthy individuals can sometimes have high cholesterol due to family history and genetics.