What is your Cholesterol IQ?
Before you order your next greasy cheeseburger and fries, you need to think about your cholesterol level.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced by the liver and found in certain foods that come from animals such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products (and cheeseburgers). Every cell in your body contains cholesterol, which is a building block in the production of hormones and vitamin D. Your body needs cholesterol to work properly—but not too much. Excess cholesterol can form plaque, a thick hard deposit on the walls of the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden and eventually stopping blood flow to the heart.
There are no symptoms for high cholesterol. The only way to know if you have this disease is to get tested. The test is easy, quick and inexpensive. Most people over 50 should have their cholesterol tested at least every five years and more often if your cholesterol level is already high of if you have any of the risk factors for heart disease.
The test results are grouped in three categories of risk.
• Desirable: Below 200 means you are at low risk for heart disease
• Borderline High: Between 200 and 240 indicates you have a moderate risk for heart disease
• High Risk: Greater than 240 is considered high risk
If you are at high risk, your doctor may perform other tests to determine the cause.
Your cholesterol will also measure your LDL, HDL and triglycerides. LDL is often called the “bad” cholesterol and can cause the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol. Its job it to take the “bad” cholesterol from the bloodstream to the liver for disposal. The higher your levels of HDL, the better. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the bloodstream. Higher levels increase your risk for heart disease.