• EN&T Team Member

Cholesterol Education Month, Know Your Numbers!



September is National Cholesterol Education Month! One in three Americans has high cholesterol. "Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death."(3) Do you know your numbers? Well this is perfect month to find out those numbers. If you are not satisfied with your numbers, you can easily incorporate physical activity like walking or even yoga into your weekly protocol to improve your cholesterol numbers. September is also, National Yoga Month too, so this is a very beneficial combination to get you started on a healthy lifestyle change if you are not on one yet with some simple yoga poses.



What is Cholesterol?

According to the American Heart Association, Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. It is made in the liver and travels throughout the bloodstream. Too much can cause serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Having too much cholesterol build-up can lead to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of plaque in the arteries, not allowing blood to flow throughout the body, but especially to the brain and heart. A heart attack or stroke can occur if a blood clot forms and blocks the narrowed arteries. The good news is that you are in control of you and if you do not like your cholesterol numbers, it is not too late to change them for the better.



Types of Cholesterol

· LDL Low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol. LDL makes up most of the cholesterol in the body. It can cause the arteries to narrow when there is too much of it in the body.

· HDL high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol. HDL carries excess cholesterol throughout the body back to the liver. The liver helps to excrete excess cholesterol out of the body. HDL helps to prevent stroke and heart attacks.


· Triglycerides are also known as hypertriglyceridemia. It stores unused calories and provides the body with energy. A high triglyceride level combined with high LDL (bad) cholesterol or low HDL (good) cholesterol is linked with fatty buildups within the artery walls, which increases the risk of an heart attack and stroke.


High Triglycerides + Low HDL + High LDL = an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Low Triglycerides + High HDL + Low LDL = Optimal cholesterol health



Signs & Symptoms

High cholesterol usually does not have any signs or symptoms, so it is important to get checked for it every 4 to 6 years after 20 years of age and more frequent if your numbers are extremely high or if you have a family history of high cholesterol.



Knowing the Numbers


Cholesterol/Fat Optimal

HDL 60+ Ideal, W50+, & M 40+ O.K

LDL Less than 100, (Less than 70 if CHD is present)

Triglyceride Less than 200

Total Cholesterol Less than 200



How often to check cholesterol?

Adults should have their cholesterol checked every so often since there is really no signs or symptoms. Depending on their health history, some people should have their numbers checked every 4 to 6 years. Those with heart disease, diabetes, or a family history of high cholesterol should get their cholesterol checked more often than those who do not. Cholesterol levels are measured by a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. Results are often obtained rather quickly; within minutes or in some cases in a day.



Natural Ways to reduce the risk of high cholesterol


1. Stay in contact with your health professional

a. Keep your doctor informed/stay connected

2. Alleviate Stress

a. Reduce stress with mindful activities such as meditation, yoga, journaling.

3. Eat a healthy diet

a. High fiber, Low fat intake is ideal

b. Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates (bagels and white bread)

c. Eliminate Trans fats

d. Reduce Saturated fats

e. Low/No Sodium (season with herbs/olive oil, garlic, onions)

4. Stop Smoking

5. Stop of Limit Alcohol Drinking

a. Men no more than 2 drinks a day & Women no more than 1 a day

6. Exercise 150+ minutes or more a week

a. Lose weight if needed (Excess body fats need to be reduced.)



Conclusion:

Taking a proactive step in understanding and improving your health is imperative to healthy living. If you are unable to get your cholesterol under control on your own, please seek the help of a doctor or a healthcare practitioner for further assistance. The doctor may have to put you on medication or if the situation is serious or life-threatening you may need statins, niacin, or surgery. If your cholesterol is more controllable you may be referred to an educator, health coach or specialist to help you get your numbers under control so you can live a healthy and productive life. Regardless of where you are now or how you feel, learn your numbers so that you can take better care of your health. You are responsible for you, so take control of how you live your life. Will you live a healthy lifestyle or riddled with diseases that can become chronic? The choice is yours!



References:

Cholesterol 101: An introduction. (Retrieved on 7.2.21) from:

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol


Getting Your Cholesterol Checked. Retrieved on 7.2.21 from:

https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_screening.htm


High Cholesterol Facts. Retrieved on 7.2.21

https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm


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