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Healthy habits: Keep your heart healthy with the right cholesterol levels

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 02:21 PM

Making sure you have the right cholesterol levels is one way to keep your heart healthy. Problems with cholesterol can increase your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke. But the American Heart Association (AHA) says understanding cholesterol is no easy task because not all cholesterol is bad for you. That's why the AHA recommends you know your cholesterol numbers by getting your cholesterol tested The AHA says all adults age 20 or older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile -- which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides -- once every five years. Ask your doctor about the test or watch for free screenings here in the Huntington area.

What the AHA says about Bad and Good Cholesterol

LDL (BAD) CHOLESTEROL: LDL cholesterol is produced naturally by the body, but many people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to make too much. Eating saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases how much you have. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to help lower your LDL blood cholesterol . Everyone is different, so work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that's best for you.

HDL (GOOD) CHOLESTEROL: About one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol, because high levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack. Low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) also increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup.

For more information visit www.heart.org. The source of this article is the American Heart Association.

Healthy Habits 2013 is a partnership among Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and St. Mary's Medical Center. We are a community working together to improve our health. Check out a "Healthy Habits" tip every Friday in The Herald-Dispatch.

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