September is National Cholesterol Education Month and the DuPage County Health Department reminds residents that this is a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to keep it at a healthy level.
High blood cholesterol affects nearly 100 million Americans. It is a serious condition that increases your risk for heart disease and your chance of having a heart attack. The higher your cholesterol level, especially the LDL (bad) cholesterol level, the greater the risk. You can have high cholesterol and not know it.
All people age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years with a fasting lipoprotein profile, which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. See your healthcare provider for his or her recommendation for you.
A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. Here are things you can do:
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level go up. Saturated fat is the main culprit, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
- Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.