L12 — March 2011 — Cholesterol Numbers
Intro: You've heard the warnings before — high cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. So how often should you get your cholesterol checked, what should your numbers be, and how do you get them there? Those answers and more from Mayo Clinic.
A sample of blood reveals numbers that add up to your heart health.
Your cholesterol levels should be, in general, the total cholesterol, less than 200.
Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kopecky breaks that number down for us.
Your bad cholesterol should be less than 130.
Bad cholesterol, or LDL, increases your risk of heart attack because it causes plaque buildup in your arteries.
So, the lower the LDL number, the better. If you have known heart disease or diabetes, try to get it down as low as 70. Good cholesterol, or HDL, helps clean bad cholesterol from your body. Dr. Kopecky says that number should be over 40 for a man and over 50 for a woman. Now, what do you do if your good and bad cholesterol numbers don't add up — if they're out of balance?
If your good cholesterol is low, you can raise that with exercise. It takes a few months of some good exercise program. It doesn't go up immediately.
But it will go up in a matter of months. Lowering your LDL, or bad cholesterol, can be a bit of a challenge. You can start the process by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats like olive oil, and lean meat. You can also lower LDL number by taking sterols or prescription statins.
Which is the biggest selling drug group in the history of the world.
So … now that you know where your numbers should be, how often should you get them checked?
If you have known heart disease or you've got really high cholesterol, you ought to get them checked every year.
If you're numbers are borderline, or on the verge of being too high, Dr. Kopecky says get them checked every one to two years. If you have great numbers with no risk factors for heart disease, he says you can get your cholesterol numbers checked every three to five years. Numbers that add up to your heart health.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol to make sure your numbers are where they should be.
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