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Why You Need to Check Your Cholesterol Every 5 Years

February 15, 2017

Cholesterol is a key factor in heart attacks and strokes. Your body makes this fat-like substance for use in cell walls and some hormones. You also get some in foods, especially from animal sources. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream on carriers called lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

 

Plaque-narrowed artery with reduced blood flow [1]

 

High levels of LDL, called “bad cholesterol," can lead to plaque buildup that hardens and blocks arteries (atherosclerosis). According to the American Heart Association, atherosclerosis increases risk for heart attack and stroke. HDL, "good cholesterol', takes cholesterol to the liver to be removed from your body, which may protect against heart disease [2]. The CDC cites that nearly 32% of American adults have high LDL, and only 1 in 3 have it controlled [3].

 

There are no symptoms to high cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends getting your cholesterol checked once every 5 years [4]. You can minimize your risk of high cholesterol by:

1.       Eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet

2.       Maintaining a healthy weight

3.       Getting 2.5 hours of exercise/week

4.       Not smoking

 

Test your cholesterol IQ with this Healthy Heart Quiz!

For more information, visit American Heart Association: Cholesterol

 

Next week, we’ll discuss fats.

 

 

 

Workplace Wellness Wednesday is an awareness bulletin to help you make healthy lifestyle choices. It is not a substitute for your healthcare provider.

 

References:

1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Cholesterol? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc. Accessed February 11, 2017.

2. American Heart Association. Good vs. Bad Cholesterol. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol_UCM_305561_Article.jsp#.WJ_OVPkrLIU. Accessed February 11, 2017.

3. Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, Arnett DK, Blaha MJ, Cushman M, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2015 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014 Dec 17 [Epub ahead of print]. Cited from https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm. Accessed February 11, 2017.

4. Centers for Disease Control. September is National Cholesterol Education Month. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_education_month.htm. Accessed February 11, 2017.

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