September is National Cholesterol Education Month

Has your doctor been telling you that you have high cholesterol?  Are you not sure what that means?  Here is what you need to know. 
First, cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance your body produces naturally in the liver and is found in the blood and in all cells of the body. Cholesterol is important for good health and is needed for making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D and bile acid. Cholesterol also comes from eating foods taken from animals such as egg yolks, meat, and whole milk dairy products. Too much cholesterol in the blood may build up in blood vessel walls, block blood flow to tissues and organs and increase the risk for developing heart disease and stroke. 

Did you know there were good and bad cholesterols?
LDL is called “bad cholesterol”. When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can join with fats and other substances to build up in the walls of your arteries.  Your arteries can become narrower which reduces the flow of oxygenated blood to other organs. A diet high in saturated fat can increase LDL levels. 

 HDL is called “good cholesterol”. HDL is “good” because it travels through the bloodstream, picks up the bad cholesterol and delivers it to the liver, where bad cholesterol is removed from your body. This is a protein driven number and can go up with physical activity.   

How often should I be having my cholesterol checked?
Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked approximately every 5 years. People who have heart disease, diabetes, or who have a family history of high cholesterol, may need to have their cholesterol checked more often. When visiting your physician for your next well visit, it is a great idea to discuss your lipid profile results or schedule your next lab check. 

What should my cholesterol levels be? 
Desirable Cholesterol Levels: (according to American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology) 

Total cholesterol less than 170 mg/dl 

LDL cholesterol less than 110 mg/dl 

HDL cholesterol 35 mg/dl or higher 

Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dl 

Why is this a concern?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 93 million US adults aged 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dl. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dl.  High cholesterol has no symptoms. Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death. 

What are my next steps?
A healthy diet and regular physical activity are recommended for all age groups as the foundation to prevent cardiovascular disease and risk factors such as high cholesterol.  This can be accomplished by eating avariety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods (whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, and brown rice), fat free or 1% low fat milk products, poultry without skin and lean meats, unsalted nuts, seeds and legumes, monounsaturated oils such as canola, olive, safflower, and peanut oil. 

Community Nurse Home Care is here for you.
Community Nurse Home Care is a nonprofit, independent home care agency providing visiting nurses, therapies, hospice, private care, and wellness services to southeastern Massachusetts since 1916. Our mission is to bring compassionate healthcare services home. The patient’s health care needs are met through personalized care within the privacy of wherever they call home. If you are interested in learning more about any of the services we provide at Community Nurse Home Care, give us a call at 508-992-6278 or email us directly at info@communitynurse.com