September is National Cholesterol Education Month!
Understanding Your Cholesterol According to the American Heart Association
Cholesterol: a waxy, fatlike substance in your blood.
Total Cholesterol: a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): aka “bad” cholesterol. LDL contributes to fatty buildups in the arteries (atherosclerosis). High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke
High-Density Lipopretein (HDL): aka “good” cholesterol. HDL carries LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where the LDL is broken down and passed from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat in your body. A high level of triglycerides can contribute to problematic cholesterol buildup in your body.
Understanding Your Cholesterol: Where Does it Come From?
Blood cholesterol comes from your liver and it helps your body build cells and make vitamins and certain hormones. Your body produces all of the cholesterol it needs through this process.
Dietary cholesterol comes from foods you eat, primarily animal products like meat, eggs, cheese and milk. Dietary cholesterol can lead to health problems if it gets too high.
Ranges for Total Cholesterol in adults:
· Normal: Less than 200 mg/dL
· Borderline high: 200 to 239 mg/dL
· High: At or above 240 mg/dL
Ranges for LDL in adults:
· Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL (This is the goal for people with diabetes or heart disease.)
· Near optimal: 100 to 129 mg/dL
· Borderline high: 130 to 159 mg/dL
· High: 160 to 189 mg/dL
· Very high: 190 mg/dL and higher
Your HDL cholesterol levels should be above 40 mg/dL. This type of fat is actually good for you because it lowers your risk of heart disease. The higher the number, the lower your risk. Sixty mg/dL or above is considered the level to protect you against heart disease.
Ranges for Triglycerides in adults:
· Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
· Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL
· High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
· Very high: Above 500 mg/dL
*High levels of triglycerides are linked with a higher heart disease risk
· Eat a heart healthy diet
· Make time to exercise
· Eliminate tobacco and alcohol products
· Manage weight
· Work with a doctor to manage conditions that put you at a higher risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Check, Change, & Control
Cholesterol can join with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit on the inside of the arteries. This can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible – a condition known as atherosclerosis. If a blood clot forms and blocks one of these narrowed arteries, a heart attack or stroke can result.
· Check your cholesterol levels. It’s key to know your numbers and assess your risk.
· Change your diet and lifestyle to help improve your levels.
· Control your cholesterol, with help from your doctor if needed