September 2013 Health Topic of the Month
September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month.
High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factor for heart disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol, the greater your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the Unites states.
When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, the arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart becomes slowed down or blocked. This may cause chest pain or even a heart attack.
High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms; therefore many people are unaware that their cholesterol is too high. It is important to find out your cholesterol numbers.
How do you do that?
Getting a blood test called a fasting lipoprotein profile will give information about your:
♥ Total cholesterol– it is desirable to have a measurement of less than 200 mg/dL
♥ Low –density-lipoprotein (LDL or BAD) cholesterol– the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. It is optimal to have an LDL level lower than 100 mg/dL
♥ High-density lipoprotein (HDL or GOOD) cholesterol– helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries. An HDL of >60 mg/dL will help lower your risk for heart disease
♥ Triglycerides– another form of fat in your blood. Levels that are borderline high ( 150-199 mg/dL) or high (>200mg/dL) may need treatment in some people.
What can I do to about my Cholesterol level?
A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are things that you can do something about:
•DIET- saturated fat and cholesterol in food may increase your cholesterol level
- •WEIGHT- being overweight tends to increase your cholesterol level
•PHYSICAL ACTIVITY- being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol
Things you cannot do anything about can also affect your cholesterol levels. They include:
*Age and Gender– as people get older, their cholesterol levels rise
*Heredity– High cholesterol can run in families.
How is High Cholesterol Treated?
The main goal of cholesterol-lowering treatment is to lower your LDL level enough to reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Four risk categories will affect the type of treatment that is right for you. Talk with your doctor to learn your risk category and recommended treatment.
There are two main ways to lower your cholesterol:
□ Therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC)- includes a cholesterol lowering diet, physical activity, and weight management. TLC is for anyone whose LDL is above goal.
□ Drug Therapy- if cholesterol-lowering drugs are needed, they are used with TLC treatment to help lower LDL
To reduce your risk for heart disease or keep it low, it is very important to control any other risk factors you may have, such as high blood pressure and smoking.
For more information, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute @ www.nhlbi.nih.gov