Why Control Cholesterol?
When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and our bodies use it to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when you have too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. These blockages lead to heart disease and stroke.
The Cost of High Cholesterol
If your cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher, you need to take action. High cholesterol can cause blocked arteries, and like a multi-car pile-up, one problem often creates another. Plaque-lined arteries and veins become less flexible and do not deliver as much blood to your body. Blocked arteries can cause heart attacks and may raise blood pressure which can eventually lead to heart damage or failure. Cholesterol and plaque can become lodged in your kidney’s filters and cause problems regulating your fluids and hormones. Lowering your cholesterol helps your whole body get adequate blood supply and keeps your circulatory organs functioning well.
What Can I Do to Control Cholesterol?
Your liver and your body’s cells make about 75% of the cholesterol in your blood. The other 25% comes from your food. The American Heart Association recommends the following:
- You can change what you eat. Eat healthy foods that are low in cholesterol, trans fats and saturated fats. A diet high in fiber also helps keep cholesterol levels controlled.
- Schedule a cholesterol screening and stay current on your health check-ups.
- Get active. When you exercise, you increase your body’s ability to make good cholesterol.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Finally, some people inherit a gene that causes them to make too much LDL. If your doctor prescribes cholesterol medication for you, it is important that you take it and follow the other healthy lifestyle recommendations, too. The good news is you can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Control Cholesterol Success story:
In June 2006, after weeks of what we thought was chronic reflux pain and then a battery of tests, I was informed that all five of my major arteries were 85-95% blocked.
So right before my 47th birthday, I had quadruple by-pass surgery. Since June 2006, I have had several emergency room visits during which I’ve been on the brink of a heart attack, and I now have 27 stents placed in my blood vessels to help keep them open and free of blockage. The average heart patient only has 3.
My problem stems from a genetic defect; my HDL (good cholesterol) is very low. Before my bypass surgery my HDL was 14 – extremely low. A man’s HDL should measure between 40 and 70 to have enough good cholesterol to keep the bad cholesterol from sticking and causing blockages. But through diet, exercise and medication, I have been able to slow down the aggressive nature of my heart disease. Today, my overall cholesterol level is excellent. My LDL (bad cholesterol) is usually very low –between 50 and 60– and my HDL levels are getting closer to where they need to be, too. I’m at 35 today.
My battle with heart disease is now a way of life. It has required a change in lifestyle whereby education and discipline are the keys to my success. If I hadn’t already spent most of my life staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining my weight, it’s very clear that I would not be alive today. I'm blessed and count each day as a miracle.