5 Things to know in National Cholesterol Education Month
Cholesterol is a popular topic when it comes to health, especially for seniors whose high cholesterol may pose serious health risks. To help raise awareness, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has designated September, National Cholesterol Education Month. The CDC offers a wealth of information on steps you can take to prevent high cholesterol and what the different levels mean. We encourage you to dedicate September to kicking off a healthy fall by educating yourself about cholesterol and the effects it can have on your heart and overall health.
To help you get started, this blog will provide 5 fundamental things to know about managing cholesterol levels and how it can impact your well-being:
What is cholesterol?
Most of the confusion comes from a lack of education on cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and in many foods. Sounds bad. However, your body needs cholesterol to function normally and stay healthy. While it is a necessity to live, too much is not good. High levels of cholesterol can cause build-up in your arteries. After a while, this can narrow the arteries and form clots, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
Is all cholesterol bad?
This is one of the most common questions about cholesterol. The answer is no, not all cholesterol is bad. There are two types of cholesterol and they have the opposite effects on your health. The “good” type of cholesterol is called HDL. HDL is good because it has a specific function that keeps your body healthy. Its helps move cholesterol away from arteries and to the liver, where it can then be expelled from your body. LDL is the dangerous form of cholesterol, which creates the build-up in the arteries when you take in too much. These build-ups can clog and narrow arteries, like we explained earlier, thus creating inflammation. When there is too much LDL present, a person is susceptible to a sudden rupture, which sends a clot into the bloodstream and can cause a heart attack and/or stroke.
How do I know if I have high cholesterol?
Unfortunately, high cholesterol itself doesn’t exhibit any symptoms. As a result, people often do not know if they have high cholesterol, unless they are tested. Fortunately, doctors can check for high cholesterol through a simple blood test. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. This frequency depends on a person’s overall health and family history. It is best to ask your primary physician, how often you should be tested to best monitor and manage your cholesterol.
Can high cholesterol be genetic?
Yes. Genetics are often to blame for high cholesterol levels. If you know that there is a family history of high cholesterol, stroke, or heart attack you should have your cholesterol checked regularly to minimize health risks and take preventative measures if necessary.
How can I lower my high cholesterol?
Fortunately, once detected, high cholesterol can be lowered and maintained through diet, exercise or medication. As stated earlier, high cholesterol can be extremely dangerous to a person’s health, so it is important to address. If your cholesterol is dangerously high, your doctor may prescribe you medication to help lower your LDL levels or suggest specific lifestyle changes. These changes may include:
- Get off the couch and get moving: Incorporating a regular exercise routine into your life can make a big difference. Exercise is good for your heart, it can help with weight loss and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- Go green: Start eating more low-fat and high-fiber foods like broccoli and spinach. We are not suggesting you become a vegetarian, just to add more dark leafy greens to your plate regularly.
- Kick the habit: If you smoke or use tobacco products, commit to quit. There are a variety of nicotine replacement products and programs that can help.
- Check the scale: If you are overweight, it is important to diet and drop the excess pounds, but it is even more important to maintain a healthy weight. Yo-yo dieting can be just as dangerous as weighing more than you should.
At Paradise Living Centers, our nurse and caregivers work closely with our residents’ families and physician to help manage their health daily. If they have any special dietary needs the team alerts our cooking staff to make sure they are getting the nutrition they need. For any additional questions about services and the care we provide, please visit our website or call us at (480) 878-4112.
If you have concerns about your cholesterol, we recommend you make an appointment to see a doctor and get tested. If you have questions, take advantage of National Cholesterol Education Month to educate yourself on cholesterol and the dangers of high cholesterol can have on you and your loved ones.