<![CDATA[What is cholesterol? To us, cholesterol serves as a major component for all cell membranes. It’s used to make essential molecules such as hormones, fat-soluble vitamins, and bile acids to help you digest your food. It sounds simple, but to everyone else it’s just a fatty substance in our blood that is measured by different levels and types. Understanding these levels can be confusing because these numbers fall on the highs and lows of a spectrum. We’re often told that these highs and lows can be good or bad. For some it can sound devastating because of the negative connotation behind the phrase “bad cholesterol” or “high cholesterol”. So, are your cholesterol levels safe? Here are some facts:
How do you get high cholesterol?
There are many causes for high cholesterol. Normally an evaluation of someones lifestyle, behaviors and family history can help us determine the reasonings behind someone’s cholesterol levels. The common causes for high cholesterol are:
- An unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Excess weight (obesity)
- Familial hypercholesterolemia
Most people don’t even know that their cholesterol levels are high. This is because cholesterol can be sneaky. There are no symptoms for high cholesterol. As we age, everyone’s risk for high cholesterol increases. It’s our bodies normal way of saying that we are not young anymore and that cholesterol does not easily clear up from our blood like it used to. This unfortunately leads to higher cholesterol levels, which raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.That is why it is recommended to get this checked regularly to prevent these potential health problems.
Which cholesterol level should I worry about?
Understanding what each level means so that you can then take steps to control and lower these levels is in our best interest. When getting your cholesterol checked there are a few things that doctors look for in your blood. These levels include:
- Total Cholesterol (Overall of LDL, HDL and percentage of Triglycerides)
LDL and HDL are the major ones to look at as they both carry cholesterol throughout the body. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol. Its’ main purpose is to absorb cholesterol and circulate it through the body and back to the liver to flush it out. Having higher levels of HDL’s help prevent heart disease. LDL on the other hand and often known as “bad” cholesterol can lead to cholesterol build up (plaques) in your arteries. No bueno!
In addition to these levels triglycerides also matter when getting blood work checked. High levels of triglycerides can lead to inflammation or hardening of the arteries. A combination of high LDL and triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Also no bueno!
How often should I get my cholesterol checked?
The American Heart Association recommends that adults aged 20 and older get checked every four to six years. After age 40, it is recommended to consult with your doctor about calculating your 10 year risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease, stroke and other possible health diseases. But, to be clear, this does not include someone that has a family history of cholesterol, high blood pressure or health risks from lifestyle and behaviors. Remember this can affect the frequency needed to check your blood cholesterol. It is best to get these levels checked and then consult with your doctor on the best course of action in the future.
Get your cholesterol levels checked at AFC Urgent Care West Hartford
At AFC Urgent Care West Hartford we can perform blood work in order to assess your cholesterol levels. We’ll explain what’s considered good and how you can manage it if it is considered “bad” or too “high”. We’ll then point you in the right direction that is specific to your lifestyle needs and based on your family history. Come on in to AFC Urgent Care West Hartford at 1030 Boulevard, West Hartford. We accept most insurances and we are open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and also 8am-5pm on the weekends, no appointments needed. ]]>