Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. While necessary for normal body functions, too much cholesterol in the bloodstream will build up on the walls of your blood vessels and arteries, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.
There are generally no physical symptoms produced as a result of high cholesterol, so many people have no idea they have a problem. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends getting your levels checked (with a simple blood test called a lipoprotein profile) every 5 years after you turn 20. Younger individuals with risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and/or a family medical history of high cholesterol or heart disease should also receive regular cholesterol testing.
Lowering high cholesterol
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the optimal lipid levels for adults are: total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL, LDL (“bad” cholesterol) of less than 100 mg/dL, HDL (“good” cholesterol) or 60 mg/dL or higher, and triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL. If your levels exceed these parameters, there are several ways to lower your cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes and medications.
- Diet:Focus on eating low-fat, high-fiber foods (fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains) and foods with cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds). Limit your consumption of saturated and trans fats and add whey protein to your diet.
- Exercise:Adults should aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity per
- Smoking:Don’t take up smoking andquitthe habit if you currently smoke.
- Alcohol:If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
- Medication:Sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels and a doctor will prescribe a medication.
Since September is National Cholesterol Education Month, now is a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high. Contact our officeto schedule your cholesterol test or make an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss your cholesterol levels today!