Here are 10 things you should know for National Cholesterol Education Month.
September is National Cholesterol Education Month. So we put together a study guide that tells you the top 10 things you should know about cholesterol and how it affects your health.
- Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in your blood. Your body makes it in your liver, but you also can get it from foods.
- Cholesterol is not a bad thing. According to the CDC, your body actually needs cholesterol in order to carry out its normal functions. Your body typically makes almost all of the cholesterol it needs (see #1).
- Too much cholesterol, though, is a bad thing. Extra cholesterol in your blood can build up in the walls of your arteries, making them more narrow. This makes it harder for blood and oxygen to flow to your heart, increasing your risk of developing heart disease, says the National Institutes of Health.
- You need a blood test to measure your cholesterol. Most people don’t feel any different when they have high cholesterol, even though their risk for heart disease and stroke is elevated. That’s why it’s important to have a doctor check your cholesterol with a simple blood test.
- A cholesterol test will usually show you three numbers: your LDL (see #6), your HDL (see #7) and your triglycerides. All three of these measurements together make up your “total cholesterol” measurement, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol because it’s the type that can build up in your artery walls.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, on the other hand, is usually called “good” cholesterol because it removes excess cholesterol from your blood.
- 102 million Americans age 20 and older have high cholesterol. The CDC reports that, of these, more than 35 million have cholesterol levels high enough that they’re at an elevated risk for heart disease.
- High cholesterol is preventable. The Mayo Clinic recommends quitting smoking; drinking alcohol in moderation (if at all); exercising regularly; limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat; getting plenty of fruit, veggies and whole grains; maintaining a healthy weight; and managing your stress. That might seem like a lot to do all at once, but your doctor can help you come up with a plan.
- High cholesterol is treatable. In addition to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, your doctor may prescribe a statin to help lower your cholesterol. Commonly prescribed statins include atorvastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and lovastatin. If your doctor prescribes a statin as part of your cholesterol treatment, be sure to check the Blink price to see if you can save money.
This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911. Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 536 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012, (844) 366–2211, www.blinkhealth.com