September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month
What is cholesterol?
It is a fat-like substance in your blood.
Why is it important?
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the U.S. and high cholesterol is a risk factor contributing to its development.
How does cholesterol contribute to heart disease?
When there is too much cholesterol in your blood it begins to build up on the walls of your arteries causing them to become narrowed or blocked, preventing blood from flowing properly through them. This can prevent the proper amount of oxygen to reach your heart leading to chest pain. Total blockage can lead to a heart attack.
What is checked with a lipid profile?
- LDl cholesterol- "bad" cholesterol is the main source of blockages.
- HDL cholesterol- "good" cholesterol helps keep bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries.
- Triglycerides- a fat found in your blood that is stored in your fat cells.
Who should have their cholesterol checked?
Everyone over age 20 should have their cholesterol checked at least every 5 years.
What affects cholesterol?
Weight- being overweight tends to increase cholesterol
Activity- being active 30 minutes per day most days can help lower total and LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.
Diet- reducing the amount of fat (specifically saturated fat and trans fat) and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol.
Age & Gender- Cholesterol rises in both men and women as they age. Women see their LDL levels rise especially after menopause.
Heredity- If you have a family history of high cholesterol, you are at risk for high cholesterol. Some people's bodies naturally produce more cholesterol.
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