September: National Cholesterol Education Month

September 2, 2014 by Molly Huff

Fact: if you have too much cholesterol in your blood, you are at a high risk for heart disease and stroke - two leading causes of death in the United States. September is National Cholesterol Education month, so Affinity Health Clinic would like to take this opportunity to teach you a little more about cholesterol - the good, the bad, and what steps you can take to get on the right track and prevent these diseases caused by high cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs - however, when you have too much in your blood, it builds up on the walls of your arteries. This can form blockages that may lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

As you’ve probably heard or read, there are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is often referred to as “good” cholesterol while LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol. When referring to high cholesterol as a bad thing, we are talking about LDL cholesterol.

71 million American adults have high cholesterol, and only 1/3 of them have the condition under control. Are you one of the 71 million? Do you even know? This is the perfect time to have your cholesterol screened by one of Affinity’s family practice or internal medicine physicians - getting your high cholesterol back down is possible and manageable, and your physician can provide you with steps to get this done. If you are already under the care of a cardiologist, a cholesterol screening may already be a part of your doctors appointments, but you may want to ask about the results to stay informed.

How can you prevent or treat high cholesterol?

Once you are screened by your physician and if it is determined that your cholesterol is too high, there may be specific recommendations for your health in addition to lifestyle changes you can make to get your LDL under control:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Avoid saturated and trans fats which tend to raise cholesterol levels. Some fats - such as polyunsaturated fats - can actually lower blood cholesterol levels. Eating fiber can also help lower cholesterol.
  • Exercise regularly. The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week.
    Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your cholesterol levels.
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, get help quitting as soon as possible.

Affinity cares about your heart health - come in soon to get screened, and let’s make September the month that we turn your high cholesterol around!

Credit: Center for Disease Control