Thinking about your cholesterol probably doesn’t top your list of fun things to do today. But give me 5 minutes to convince you why it’s worth some thought.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body uses to do tasks like build cell walls. But where a little is useful, a lot is dangerous. Too much of the stuff can start to build up as plaque on your artery walls. And that can increase your risk of developing heart disease—this country’s leading killer.
And here’s the thing. You could be walking around for years with high cholesterol, while the plaque slowly builds on your artery walls, and not know it. This condition has no symptoms until it’s too late.
When plaque builds up, it can affect your blood flow and harden your arteries. If this happens in an artery that feeds blood to the heart, it may lead to a heart attack. If it happens in an artery that feeds blood to the brain, it may lead to a stroke.
So what does it take to find out if you have high cholesterol? One simple blood test. That’s it. One test can let you know if your cholesterol is high, while there’s still plenty of time to do something about it.
And, hey, what’s the worst thing that can happen if you get your cholesterol screened? Your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol. Right? Not the best news in the world, sure, but a whole lot better than hearing you need a triple bypass stat.
Plus, if you find out your cholesterol is high, you’ve got plenty of options for lowering it. Diet and exercise changes alone may do the trick. Or you may need to quit the smokes or go on medication. Regardless, you’ll be taking important steps to reduce your risk of heart disease. If you have any questions or concerns about cholesterol, be proactive and talk with your doctor today!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/features/cholesterolawareness/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Heart disease facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
NIH MedlinePlus. (2012). Cholesterol levels: What you need to know. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/summer12/articles/summer12pg6-7.html
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, & National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2005). High blood cholesterol: What you need to know (NIH Publication No. 05-3290). Retrieved from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/wyntk.pdf