Michigan (September 04, 2013) – One of the most controllable risk factors for heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association, is high cholesterol. Yet, more than 98 million Americans still suffer from it. To celebrate National Cholesterol Awareness Month in September, the American Heart Association is encouraging everyone to get their cholesterol levels checked to prevent heart disease and stroke.
Typically, cholesterol levels should be checked starting at age 20, unless you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease. Since high cholesterol doesn’t always have symptoms, it’s important for your cholesterol levels to be checked regularly by your physician. The ideal cholesterol level for most people is less than 200 mg/dL.
There are both “good” and “bad” kinds of cholesterol. It’s important to understand that too much “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and not enough “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoproteins (HDL) can increase you risk for heart disease.
About 75 percent of LDL is produced naturally in the blood or inherited. The other 25 percent of LDL comes from the foods that you eat, such as fatty animal products.
In addition to checking your cholesterol levels, also ask your doctor to check you triglyceride (or blood fat) level. A normal triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/DL.
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to lower your cholesterol levels and protect your heart against heart disease:
· Eating a heart-healthy diet
· Enjoying at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
· Avoiding tobacco smoke.
The first step to preventing heart disease and lowering your cholesterol is getting your cholesterol levels checked by your doctor. For more information and tools about cholesterol and how to reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke, please visit www.heart.org/cholesterol.
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