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A Word About Cholesterol

My parents recently put us into a tissy as mother reported that father had a "30% increase in his cholesterol and was to see a cardiologist." However, when asked what the cholesterol level was or was it the HDL, LDL, triglycerides or what was the risk factor, she had no idea. They are of the generation and mind set as long as they are told it is OK, they assume all is well. Then all of a sudden panic. So back to basics for my parents and anyone else who may want to understand and be more responsible for their cardiac well being.

WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance that is found in our body's cells. We make some cholesterol and it is found in certain animal-based foods. The cholesterol and saturated fats intake may raise our blood cholesterol level.

CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS given with Total Lipid Panels:
Having too high a cholesterol level may lead to increased risk for heart disease. In recent years the numbers have changed.

The desirable (low risk) cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter of blood).

Borderline (average risk) is considered between 200 and 239.

Abnormal (moderate to high risk) is over 240 mg/dl.

LDL
Cholesterol and other fats can't dissolve in our blood. They travel to our cells by way of a special carrier called lipoprotein, referred to commonly as LDL and known as "the bad kind of cholesterol." With too much in our system it can join with cells and fats, then build up on the inner walls of our arteries. This can cause a blood clot, block the blood flow to our heart and cause either a heart attack or stroke.

The optimal LDL number is (very low risk) is under 100. ( This is recommended for diabetes or people with heart problems).

The desirable (low risk) number is 100 -130 mg/dl.

Borderline (average risk) is 130 to 159 mg/dl.

Abnormal (moderate to high risk) is 160 or above.

HDL
If there is a bad, there must be a good. The good kind of cholesterol is called high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. It carries harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and helps protect us from heart disease. It is good to have a lot of HDL cholesterol in our blood.

Less than 35 mg/dl puts both men and women at risk.

Desirable (low risk) is over 55 for men and over 65 for women.

We can raise our HDL with healthy living!

Triglycerides
Where do triglycerides fit into the picture? Most of our body fat comes in the form of triglycerides. Butter, margarine and vegetable oil are triglycerides, too. High levels can result from being overweight, drinking a lot of alcohol, having diabetes or other disorders.

Desirable (low risk) is considered less than 200 mg/dl.

Borderline (average risk) is between 200 to 400.

Abnormal (moderate to high risk) is 400 to 1000 mg/dl.

Higher than 1000 is very high..

Cholesterol/HDL Ratio
The Cholesterol/HDL ratio is another reading that gives meaning to our cardiac risk assessment.

For men the Optimal is under 3.4, for women, under 3.3.

Borderline (average risk) is 5.0 for men and 4.5 for women.

Abnormal (moderate to high risk) for men is over 9.5 and over 7.0 for women.

Frequency to Test
A health journal suggest a cholesterol test every five years for individuals 18 years and over. As we age or if we have concerns about a cardiac history one may want to test more frequently and even earlier. I have always considered in ONE way to monitor my heart's health and have chosen to do it on a yearly basis. A good question to ask your health care provider.

Forks Community Hospital Laboratory
The Laboratory at Forks Community Hospital makes it easy to test your cholesterol level alone OR do a coronary test, the total lipid panel. You can see from the explanation given above the more detailed information the total lipid panel gives. Every Wednesday, the lab invites anyone to come in on a walk-in basis from 9:30 a.m. to noon for either the cholesterol level ($20) or the total lipid panel ($63). I recommend obtaining your physician's order so insurance coverage, if you are fortunate to have it, can help with the cost. A 12 hour fast is recommended. Actually the lab tells me that you do not have to wait until Wednesday if you have your health care provider's order. Call them at 374-6271, ext. 163 if you have questions.

NEW Goals for 1999??
Since we are now in the new year, 1999, did you make any resolutions having to do with making your life healthier and perhaps those around you as well. Below are some of the questions you may want to ponder and make decisions about. Let's remember just like every garden has weeds, so do we. The new year is a time to look at "which weeds" do we want to give priority to in the New Year.

Cholesterol or Total Lipid Panel
First, after reading the above, you may want to respond by having your cholesterol or your total lipid panel done, so you know your levels at the present time and if necessary take correction action working as a team member with your health care provider.

Food and Activity Pyramids
Look at the Food Pyramid and the Activity Pyramid for guidance on achieving the healthiest lifestyle possible. See what can happen ! Look at the SUPER YOU calendar to see the programs and activities that can help you with this. YOGA is coming, no later than the end of February, and LINE DANCING will be resuming at a new place. VOLLEYBALL and SQUARE DANCING are fun ways to be active. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE, they say. Do not stay in one position longer than 30 minutes!

Visit the Health Resource Center at Forks Community Hospital
Stop in the Forks Community Hospital to see the above information on display and also pick up your copies of helpful information to support you in meeting your new goals. May we all have a healthier year filled with many moments that are dear and will be remembered forever!



 
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