Most people don't think about their cholesterol level. And, the truth is, you don't need to think about it — unless it's high. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver. It's also found in certain foods like eggs, steak, butter, and cream.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks, but this dangerous condition usually doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. The only way to know if your cholesterol level is high is to get a blood test.
At Danvers Family Doctors, we offer cholesterol testing as well as lifestyle advice to help you keep your cholesterol at a healthy level.
Your body does require a certain amount of cholesterol to function. But when you have too much cholesterol, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing them to harden and restrict blood flow. This cholesterol buildup and artery hardening greatly increase your risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Every adult 20 years and older should have their cholesterol levels tested at least every five years. When you get a cholesterol level test, also called a lipoprotein panel, you receive information on several different cholesterol levels. These include your:
This number is a total of both your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This number should ideally be less than 200 mg/dL. Anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high cholesterol.
LDL is also known as bad cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is the substance that builds up in your arteries and can raise your risk for health issues. Ideally, this number should be less than 100 mg/dL. Anything over 160 mg/dL is considered high.
HDL cholesterol is the good kind. This cholesterol clears out the LDL and stops it from building up. You want this number to be high, over 40 mg/dL.
The good news about high cholesterol is that in most cases, healthy lifestyle changes can reduce and manage your cholesterol levels. Here are three ways you can help lower your cholesterol:
What you eat affects your health and your weight. Foods that are high in saturated fat and foods that contain cholesterol raise your cholesterol levels. Cutting out food that is high in saturated fat and cholesterol such as full-fat dairy, packaged baked goods, and fried foods can help lower your level and your weight. Being overweight can also raise your cholesterol level.
Smoking lowers your HDL, or good, cholesterol level. A lower level of HDL can contribute to a higher level of LDL.
Physical activity helps lower your LDL level and raise your HDL level. It also helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Do you need your cholesterol tested? Call us Danvers Family Doctors, P.C., located in Danvers, Massachusetts, for an appointment.