Put Your Heart First
Do you know your risk factors?
You probably know that high cholesterol levels increase your risk for heart disease and heart attacks. But what you may not know about are all the factors that contribute to your cholesterol numbers.
Age and Gender: Because cholesterol tends to increase as people get older, everyone's risk for high cholesterol grows with age. Added to this, women and men generally have different cholesterol ranges. Women's LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels rise more quickly than men's as they age. Regardless of age, men tend to have lower HDL, or "good," cholesterol levels than women.
Lifestyle: Unhealthy habits can increase your chance of developing poor cholesterol numbers. Help your heart by quitting smoking, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and staying active. Speak honestly with your doctor about your level of activity, your diet and your use of tobacco and alcohol. Discuss realistic goals for improving your lifestyle. And, once you start making changes, celebrate every stage of your progress.
Genetics: Cholesterol problems may run in your family. If you inherited a genetic condition called hypercholesterolemia, a healthy diet and exercise may not be enough to improve your cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor about medications that can help get your numbers under control.
WHAT'S IN A NUMBER?
A simple blood test is all it takes to check your cholesterol levels. Call and schedule a screening with your physician today. Discuss what your numbers mean and how you can improve them. Compare your results to these numbers,considered optimal by the American Heart Association:
- Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL
- HDL ("good") cholesterol: 60 mg/dL and above
- LDL ("bad") cholesterol: Less than 100 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL