What's Up Doc - Reduce Your Risk For High Cholesterol

September 26, 2016

Ross Taylor, MD, DRMC Chief Medical Officer (CMO)

For many, September is synonymous with football and fall, which means chips, dips, barbeques, and everyone’s favorite tailgating delicacies.  This makes September a natural time to educate the Dan River Region about the dangers of high cholesterol.  

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. It travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins and comes from two sources:
•    It's made by your body and used to do important things, like make hormones and digest fatty foods.
•    It's found in many foods, like egg yolks, fatty meats, and regular cheese.
Reducing your risk of high cholesterol is especially important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two out of three adults have high cholesterol, which increases risk of heart disease and stroke. There are two kinds of cholesterol - high density lipoprotein (HDL), which is "good" cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is "bad" cholesterol. When we talk about high cholesterol, we are talking about “bad” LDL cholesterol that has built-up in a person’s arteries. 

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults over the age of 20 have their cholesterol checked every five years.  Additionally, individuals who are considered high risk should consult with their primary care physician to determine the appropriate frequency of screenings.  High risk patients are those with a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or stroke; individuals who live sedentary lifestyles, are overweight or regularly use tobacco products; and those who have previously been diagnosed with high cholesterol.

The good news is that high cholesterol is treatable.  While some patients may be prescribed medication to combat their cholesterol levels, others can make some simple lifestyle changes.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most effective therapeutic lifestyle changes are: 

1.    Eat a healthy diet
2.    Schedule a visit with your primary care physician
3.    Exercise
4.    Maintain a healthy weight
5.    Steer clear of tobacco.
6.    Know your family history

DRMC has a number of clinics and centers that can assist with cholesterol screenings and determine the most effective cholesterol management regimen for you.  To learn more, or to schedule a screening, call 1.800.424.DOCS (3627).