Many understand the need to keep this level low, but further knowledge around the term is lacking. In honor of September being “Cholesterol Education Month,” I’m hoping to remedy this issue.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. Too much of this substance can cause narrowing and blockages of the blood vessels, which can then lead to heart attack and stroke. Increased levels of cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, elevated cholesterol has no symptoms and can only be checked through a blood test ordered by your healthcare provider. You should have your cholesterol checked every 5 years after age 20 if you are at low risk for heart disease. You should have it checked more frequently if you have or are at increased risk of heart disease. Some risk factors for high cholesterol include obesity, diabetes, smoking, high-fat diet, lack of exercise, and family history of elevated cholesterol.
You can take steps today to lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of related health complications. Quitting smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, getting enough exercise, reducing alcohol intake, and maintain a healthy weight are all ways to lower your cholesterol. Sometimes healthy habits aren’t enough to control your cholesterol and your doctor may have to prescribe medication for treatment.
Article written by Nicole Roberson NP-C, a nurse at Washington County Family Practice at 610 Ferncrest Drive, Suite A, Sandersville Ga. If you have further medical questions, call 478-552-9000.