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Do Your Know Your Numbers?

August 28, 2009
Alicia Wager, ARNP, Covenant Clinic - Reinbeck

As we turn another page of summer it's time to make sure you have been meeting your health and wellness goals. September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a perfect time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is too high.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, high blood cholesterol affects over 65 million Americans. It is a serious condition that increases your risk for heart disease. The higher your cholesterol level, the greater the risk you have of having some form of heart disease. You can have high cholesterol and not know it. Lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens your risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of having a heart attack or dying of heart disease.

So how does cholesterol cause heart disease? When there is too much cholesterol, which can be described as a fat-like substance in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes the arteries to harden and become narrow, which then either slows or completely blocks the blood flow to the heart. This ultimately results in a heart attack.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also encourages you to take time in September during National Cholesterol Education Month to learn about lipid profiles, about food and lifestyle choices that help you reach personal cholesterol goals. Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured once every five years. A blood test called a lipoprotein profile can help you find out your cholesterol numbers. Typically, this test is done after a nine to twelve hour fast. It helps give the following information:

Total cholesterol:

LDL (bad) cholesterol- the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries.

HDL (good) cholesterol-helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

Triglycerides-another form of fat in your blood.

Your diet, weight and physical activity are a few things you can do to positively affect your cholesterol levels. However, your age, gender and heredity you can not control which could cause higher cholesterol levels.

In the end, I stress the importance of seeing your provider today. Find out where you stand and begin to take back control in your health and wellness.



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