Spotlight on Health: National Cholesterol Education Month

September is National Cholesterol Education Month! Here are some things we learned courtesy of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. There are two kinds: high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol). Having too much of the “bad” in your blood is bad for you; excess cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages. Due to this, too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

What role does screening play?
High cholesterol doesn’t exactly have any symptoms, so many people do not know their cholesterol is too high. It’s good to have your doctor do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that if you’re an adult aged 20 years or older that you should look into checking your cholesterol every 5 years. Depending on some other factors, you may need to do this check more often.

How can you prevent or treat high cholesterol?

Here are some lifestyle changes to consider!

  • Eating a healthy diet – avoid saturated fats and trans fats, as they are known to raise cholesterol levels. Some other fats, like polyunsaturated fats, can conversely lower the level of cholesterol in your blood. Eating more fiber is also useful!
  • Exercising regularly – Physical activity is also good for lowering cholesterol. 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week is recommended for adults by the Surgeon General.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – Your cholesterol levels may raise and be much higher if you’re overweight or obese. It follows that losing some of that weight can help lower that cholesterol.
  • Not smoking – Quit as soon as possible if you do!

For more information, visit the CDC website to find more resources like useful links and additional reading. You might also find some helpful related information on heart disease in our Consumer Health LibGuide on our library website!

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