Cholesterol Awareness

September is Cholesterol Awareness month. Did you know that 71 million American adults (33.5%) have high levels of unhealthy cholesterol and less than half of these adults get treatment?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. Your body requires some cholesterol to operate normally, but it can build up on the walls of your arteries. If it does build up, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke. Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack, needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, and dying of heart disease. High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don't know that their cholesterol is too high. Ask your doctor to do a simple blood test to check your levels at least once every five years If you have high cholesterol, you can get it back to normal by changing your lifestyle or through medication as recommended by your doctor. These tips can help you get on track:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and avoid saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol
  • Do not smoke or quit if you already do
Cholesterol Check info graphic
Illustrated by Mitchell Watley

The Good

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles remove fats and cholesterol from cells, including from artery walls, and transport it back to the liver for excretion or re-use.

The Bad

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can transport fat molecules into artery walls, driving atherosclerosis (the thickening of the artery walls).

The Ugly

High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention