Get the skinny on cholesterol
It’s hard to miss the health messages concerning cholesterol these days, and by now you’ve probably become aware that lowering cholesterol is an important way to stay healthy. Even major manufacturers are advertising the benefits of lowering cholesterol.
From breakfast cereals to soy-fortified foods, many products claim that they can help you stay heart-healthy. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one out of every two men, and one out of every three women will develop heart disease during their lifetime. You can reduce your risk for having a heart attack by lowering your cholesterol level. However, with terms floating around like good cholesterol, bad cholesterol and atherosclerosis and with contradictory information concerning cholesterol being broadcast daily, sometimes it can be hard to tell the facts from fiction when it comes to getting educated about heart disease. Here are some cholesterol education facts, courtesy of NHLBI, which have been put together to help shed light on the mysteries Why is cholesterol important? Blood cholesterol plays an important part in deciding a person’s chance or risk of getting coronary heart disease.
The higher your blood cholesterol levels, the greater your risk. That’s why high blood cholesterol is called a risk factor for heart disease the No.1 killer of men and women in the United States. Excess cholesterol in the blood causes buildup on the walls of the arteries that carry blood, much the way plaque builds up on teeth this buildup is called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The arteries become so narrow due to the cholesterol buildup that blood flow to the heart can be slowed or stopped completely.
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of coronary disease and can happen so slowly you may not even be aware of it. All adults age 20 and older should have their blood cholesterol (also known as total blood cholesterol) checked at least every five years. Levels under 200 mg/dl are called “desirable” and put you at a lower risk for heart disease. Your blood cholesterol level is influenced by many factors, including your diet, weight, level of physical activity, heredity, age and gender. One of the easiest ways to get heart-healthy is to increase physical activity, eat healthier foods and lose excess weight.
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