Are You Up On High Cholesterol?
Learning the facts about high cholesterol is essential to good heart health. To keep your cholesterol levels under control and help reduce your risk of heart disease, schedule regular screenings to monitor your cholesterol levels. Your cholesterol is considered high if total cholesterol is 240/mg/dL or greater and/or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is less than 40.
Certain risk factors, such as inactivity, obesity and a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, can cause or contribute to high levels of total cholesterol. Fortunately, you can counter high cholesterol with healthful dietary and lifestyle changes. Some of these strategies include:
- Controlling total fat
- Limiting dietary cholesterol
- Eating foods with soluble fiber
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Reducing sugar intake to lower triglyceride levels
- Avoiding smoking
- Exercising to maintain a healthy weight
You can have your cholesterol tested at your physician's office. Or, you can sign up for public screenings that reputable companies offer in your local community. Always be sure to share your screening results with your health care provider. By taking responsibility to manage your cholesterol, you can improve your chances of having a healthy heart.
The family factor
Sometimes a healthy diet and regular exercise aren't enough to lower high cholesterol. High blood cholesterol can run in families, so your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes.
Also, as women and men age, their cholesterol levels usually rise. Before the age of menopause women typically have lower total cholesterol levels than those of same-aged men. After menopause, women's LDL levels tend to rise.
Fortunately, there are medications available that can lower total cholesterol to a healthy level. With the right combination of diet, exercise and medication, you can stave off your risk of developing heart disease.