Monday, January 2, 2012

Your Doctors Says You Have High Cholesterol, Now What?

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in your blood and in the cells of your body. A simple blood test is used to measure your cholesterol by detecting the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol in your blood. These terms can be difficult to keep straight, but an easy trick is to think of "Healthy" cholesterol for HDL-cholesterol, and "Lousy" for LDL-cholesterol. Your healthy cholesterol should be high and your lousy cholesterol should be low.
What Should Your Cholesterol Level Be?
Your doctor will determine your "target" cholesterol levels by considering your medical history and existing risk factors for heart disease. Existing risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, diabetes, being overweight, being a man over the age of 40 or a woman over the age of 50.
Once your target cholesterol level has been established, your doctor will work with you to design the most effective plan for reaching this level. This may include making lifestyle changes and sometimes medication. Lowering your cholesterol level will reduce your risk of developing heart disease, the #1 killer of Canadians.
What You Can Do To Reduce Your Cholesterol?
Quit Smoking
Many studies have shown that cigarette smoking is a major cause of heart disease. In fact, smokers have been shown to have higher levels of LDL-cholesterol and lower levels of HDL-cholesterol than non-smokers. Smoking has also been shown to increase the development of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), as well as increasing heart rate and blood pressure.
Exercise Regularly
Physical activity has been found to increase HDL-cholesterol. Regular exercise helps control body weight and other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise also improves circulation of blood in the body, strengthens the heart and other muscles, as well as increases your sense of well-being.
Make Dietary Changes
The key to managing cholesterol levels in your diet is portion control. Foods high in fat such as oils and desserts can increase cholesterol more than anything else, so limiting your fat and cholesterol intake can make a big difference.
When Lifestyle Changes Are Not Enough?
Sometimes lifestyle changes alone are not enough to reach your target cholesterol levels. Even though you may be eating well and exercising regularly, you may still have elevated cholesterol level. It is important to understand that only 20 per cent of your cholesterol comes from the food you eat and the remaining 80 per cent is manufactured by your liver. If your target cholesterol level is not achieved, you may need the help of medication. Today, the most commonly prescribed medications are statins, which significantly lower LDL-cholesterol and raise HDL-cholesterol.
What Is The Benefit Of Lowering Your Cholesterol?
Lowering your cholesterol can significantly decrease your chance of developing heart disease. Research has repeatedly shown that a one per cent decrease in cholesterol level can lead to a two-to-three per cent decrease in your risk of heart disease after several years.
To find out your "target" LDL-cholesterol level, please contact your physician. If you think you may be at risk for high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about getting tested and what treatment may be right for you. For more information about cholesterol and heart disease, visit or call toll-free 1-877-4LOW-LDL (1-877-456-9535).

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