September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Many of you might ask, “what exactly is cholesterol?” And what are the next steps if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol. In order to raise awareness about cholesterol, our goal for this blog is to better your understanding of cholesterol and it’s effects. Let’s start with the basics.

What is Cholesterol? The CDC’s definition is a fat-like substance naturally produced by your liver, as well as found in various foods. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal products such as egg yolks or cheese. Total cholesterol is made up of three different subcategories: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. HDL and LDL, fat-transporting proteins appropriately named lipoproteins, carry cholesterol throughout our bodies. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol because of its relation to heart disease and stroke. HDL is then deemed the “good” cholesterol because it helps the body rid excess amounts of LDL. Calories stored in your body for later use are known as triglycerides, which are stored in the blood.

The CDC estimates over 102 Million Americans, age 20 or older, have a cholesterol reading of 200 mg/dL or higher. Of those, approximately 35 million or more are in the 240 mg/dL range, which puts them at risk for heart disease. Below are the ranges we use at Healthy Lifestyles during our biometric screenings. We look at total cholesterol, so there is no identification of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. If you desire results from each category, please contact your physician for a full blood panel.

Total Cholesterol Ranges

Low Risk               ≤ 200 mg/dL

Moderate Risk   201-239 mg/dL

High Risk              ≥ 240 mg/dL

How does excess cholesterol affect my body as a whole? When cholesterol begins to form on the walls of the arteries, they begin to constrict and reduce blood flow. This can cause a condition known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. This limits the amount of oxygen that is delivered throughout your body, so your heart must work harder to pump the blood past these build ups. This reaction, known as hypertension, causes more damage to the arteries. Making healthy behavior changes will aid in the reversal of arterial injury, lower your cholesterol level, and positively affect the rest of your body.

I have High Cholesterol. What Can I do to Lower it? Your physician might prescribe medication to treat your high cholesterol. They will also recommend making lifestyle changes, which will provide the same benefits. Consuming high-fiber foods, such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains, participating in 150 minutes of physical activity a week, and quitting smoking have been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

Sunflower Home Health is here to help if you have any questions about cholesterol. Please don’t hesitate to navigate to the contact us form on our website and reach out or give us a call at your local office.  Those numbers are listed below:

  • Charleston – (662) 647-0653
  • Clarksdale – (662) 624-4141
  • Cleveland – (662)756-4676
  • Greenwood – (662) 455-3535
  • Grenada – (662) 294-0726
  • Indianola – (662) 887-1518

At Sunflower Home Health, we truly believe that education and awareness are the keys to making the Mississippi Delta a healthy and safe place to live, something that we are committed to making a reality.

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