People of all ages can be at risk for high cholesterol and September is National Cholesterol Education Month.
Over 100 million adults in the United States currently have elevated cholesterol levels and over one-third of those have high levels that put them at risk of heart disease. High cholesterol levels may often occur with no presenting symptoms, so unless patients have a blood test that checks their cholesterol levels, they may be completely unaware. This can be especially dangerous because the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries can lead to heart disease and strokes.
“The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)External recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.”
Optimal lipid levels for adults are as follows:
Total cholesterol– Less than 170 mg/dL
Low LDL (“bad” cholesterol)– Less than 110 mg/dL
High HDL (“good” cholesterol)– 35 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides– Less than 150 mg/dL
For those who currently have elevated cholesterol levels, the following is recommended by the CDC.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your high cholesterol.5 In addition, you can lower your cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes:
- Low-fat and high-fiber food (Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains).
- For adults, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. For those aged 6-17, getting 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke or quit if you smoke.
If you have questions about your cholesterol levels, please contact your doctor. More general information can be found on the CDC website here https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_education_month.htm