Have You Checked Your Cholesterol Recently?
September is National Cholesterol Education Month, and it is estimated more than 35 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally, but 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.
High cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol levels are too high. However, a simple blood test can be done to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes or if it is not enough, through medications. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. If you think you may be at risk for high cholesterol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
What do my Cholesterol Numbers Mean?
After having your cholesterol checked, you should be given a document that lists your results. There are four basic values provided to all patients:
- Total Cholesterol (TC)
- Triglycerides (TG)
- High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
- Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
Interestingly, all these numbers are related by a simple equation: TC = HDL + LDL + (TG/5)
Total Cholesterol involves all elements of your body’s cholesterol and gives you an overall idea of where you are. The goal for TC is <200mg/dl. HDL, also known as the good cholesterol, should be >40mg/dl in men and >50mg/dl in women. LDL, or the bad cholesterol, should be <100mg/dl. Finally, the goal for TGs is <150mg/dl. (all goals according to the National Institutes of Health)
The value that is elevated will determine your treatment recommendations. LDL is the primary number that physicians look at to determine the need for drug therapy. Make sure to discuss your results with your physician is any of the values is elevated.