Monday, September 3, 2012

National Cholesterol Education Month

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By Nurse Diane

This past May, my cousin and her family took a weekend cruise.  This was a celebration anniversary trip for her husband’s family.  They were celebrating 20 years since his father suffered from a heart attack and nearly lost his life.  Since that time, he and the rest of the family have learned about cholesterol and things to do to control it and ways to prevent a recurrence in heart problems.
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When my cousin's husband reached the age that his father was when he suffered a heart attack he really started to take notice of his heath.  He started exercising, losing weight, eating better and taking care of his heart.  He didn't want to put his family through the horrifying experience that he went through watching his father's attack.
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More than 102 million American Adults (20 years or older) have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL, which is above healthy levels. More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk for heart disease.

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Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries.  After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke.

LDL “BAD” Cholesterol (mg/dl)
Near Optimal
Borderline High
> 190
Very High

Total Cholesterol (mg/dl)
High risk

HDL “GOOD” Cholesterol (mg/dl)
Low (undesirable)
High (desirable)

Triglycerides (mg/dl)
Borderline High
Very High

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A simple blood test can determine your cholesterol levels, and it is recommended that adults have one every 5 years. When too much low-density lipoprotein LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery - heart attack or stroke can result.

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About one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol, because high levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack. Low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) also increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup.

Triglycerides are a type of lipid found in your blood.  When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides.  The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells.  Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.  If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates and fats, you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).
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Your diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level — and these factors may be controlled by:
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet;
  • Enjoying regular physical activity; and
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke.

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Below is a list of things to eat, and things to avoid:
  • Focus on low-saturated-fat, trans fat-free, low-cholesterol;
  • foods such as these: A variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables (4 to 5 servings of each per day);
  • A variety of fiber-rich grain products like whole grain bread, cereal, pasta and brown rice. (6 to 8 servings per day with at least half of the serving’s whole grains);
  • Fat-free, 1 percent and low-fat milk products (2 to 3 servings per day);
  • Lean meats and poultry without skin (choose up to 5to 6 total ounces per day);
  • Fatty fish (enjoy at least 2 servings baked or grilled each week); and
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes (dried beans or peas) in limited amounts (4 to 5 servings per week).

  • Whole milk
  • Butter, egg yolks, cheese
  • Organ meats
  • High fat processed meats
  • Duck and goose
  • Bakery goods high in fat

For more information about cholesterol, check this site:

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