Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016
Did you know that about 74 million U.S. adults are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack and stroke. These individuals often suffer from high cholesterol and don’t know it, because there are no symptoms of high cholesterol.
September is National Cholesterol Education Month, which serves as a perfect time to remind patients to get their cholesterol and other Core 4 numbers checked by their primary care physician.
Who is at Risk?
Certain health conditions, your family history and your lifestyle can all increase your risk for high cholesterol. Some risk factors, like your age or family history, are out of your control.
Other conditions like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and getting plenty of exercise are in your control and can help you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Because there are no signs and symptoms for high cholesterol, it’s important for patients to get their cholesterol checked,” Harbin Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ed McBride says. “Getting your cholesterol checked is vital, because high cholesterol contributes to heart disease, stroke and other health issues.”
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance your body needs. However, having too much cholesterol can put you at risk for heart disease or stroke.
LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is known as bad cholesterol, because having high levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries.
HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. HDL is known as good cholesterol, because having high levels can help reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol along with high LDL cholesterol can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Knowing Your Numbers
Your cholesterol test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).
Total cholesterol is a measure of the good and bad cholesterol in your blood.
A total cholesterol level of 200mg/dL and below is considered desirable. LDL levels should be less than 130 mg/dl and preferably less than 100mg/dL especially in patients with significant cardiovascular risk factors, while HDL levels should be above 40mg/dL in men and greater than 50mg/dl in women.
Your primary care physician will help explain your test results and help you craft a plan to improve your numbers.
Keep Cholesterol in Check
Steps patients can take to lower their cholesterol or to prevent high cholesterol include
- Refraining from eating foods with saturated fats like fatty beef, lamb and pork, poultry with skin, butter and cheese.
- Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes, five times a week
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Harbin Clinic cares completely about your health. Be sure to see your primary care physician regularly to monitor your cholesterol.