Do you know your cholesterol levels and what they mean about your risk for heart disease? During National Cholesterol Education Month this September, take the opportunity to know your numbers!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke—two leading causes of death in the United States. An important way to prevent these diseases is to have your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis, and to take the necessary steps to live heart healthy.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is produced by your body in limited, small amounts in order to function properly. Cholesterol is also found in food. Having too much cholesterol in the body causes deposits called plaques that clog arteries, preventing proper blood flow. This may then lead to an increased risk of heart disease or stroke.
Total cholesterol is made up of low density (LDL) and high density (HDL) lipoproteins, or fats. LDL , is also known as the “bad” cholesterol because that is the type that can clog artieris. HDL, or the “good” cholesterol helps keep LDL cholesterol from building up in the arteries.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
High cholesterol doesn’t make you feel sick. By the time you find out you have it, it may already be narrowing your arteries. So it is very important to start treatment even though you may feel fine.
What causes high cholesterol?
Many things can cause high cholesterol, including:
- The foods you eat. Eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol level.
- Being overweight.
- Being inactive.
- Age. Cholesterol starts to rise after age 20.
- Family history. If family members have or had high cholesterol, you may also have it.
- Overall health. Diseases such as hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol.
How is high cholesterol diagnosed?
You need a blood test to check your cholesterol. There are several kinds of tests:
- A fasting cholesterol test is the most complete test because it measures all of the fats in your blood, including LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
- A direct LDL test measures your LDL level only.
- A simple cholesterol test can measure total cholesterol and HDL.
What can you do today to take control of your health?
Register for a cholesterol test, here.
Visit www.TrustedHeartCare.com to take a FREE online heart health risk assessment and discuss your results with a cardiac nurse at Washington Adventist Hospital!
Sources: Adventist HealthCare Health Library.