The Cholesterol War

The battle has begun! My body has declared war on me, and I’ve gone into fighting mode. What else can I do when my doctor tells me that I have high cholesterol? It’s just one more health problem to add to my existing diabetes and hypothyroid issues. And all I keep wondering is: Where did I go wrong? How is it that I’m only twenty-seven and I already have all these health problems?

However, one good thing is that I have a really great doctor, and she’s giving me three months to attempt to get my cholesterol down on my own. She knows how proactive I am about taking care of my body. Many doctors would prescribe a pill and let it go at that, but she’s giving me a chance. The downside is that we’re just starting the holiday season. Could it have come at a worse time?

I don’t think most of us really know how cholesterol affects us. It plays a big role in  whether or not we develop heart disease. In fact, the statistics are rather sobering. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (which is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) states, “Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Each year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks, and about a half million people die from heart disease.”

I don’t want to be one of those half million people. So, let’s find out a little about our cholesterol, and then do something about it. Here’s some really great information from the same website as above nhlb.nih.gov, and the article is entitled High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need To Know.
Your blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes "hardening of the arteries" so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it. Cholesterol lowering is important for everyone–younger, middle age, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease. Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every 5 years. It is best to have a blood test called a "lipoprotein profile" to find out your cholesterol numbers. This blood test is done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about your:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol–the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
  • HDL (good) cholesterol–helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries
  • Triglycerides–another form of fat in your blood

What Affects Cholesterol Levels?

A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are things you can do something about:

  • Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level go up. Saturated fat is the main culprit, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
  • Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as raise your HDL and lower your triglyceride levels.
  • Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.

Things you cannot do anything about also can affect cholesterol levels. These include:

  • Age and Gender. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
  • Heredity. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families

I strongly encourage you to connect to this link http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/wyntk.htm and read the entire article. There’s some great information at the end that talks about how to make “therapeutic lifestyle changes” that I think will benefit everyone.
If you’re like me and are battling for better health, don’t give up! Together we can win this war against high cholesterol.