January 30, 2014

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month: Limit Cholesterol Intake for a Healthy Heart

By Julie Suchanek, MBA, MT (ASCP)
Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, PLC

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and being overweight are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. You should be tested regularly to find out if you have high blood cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, since these conditions have no outwardly noticeable warning signs.

Cholesterol

Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke, America’s first and fourth leading causes of death. Most heart and blood vessel disease is caused by a buildup of cholesterol, plaque, and other fatty deposits in artery walls. The arteries that feed the heart can become clogged. This reduces blood flow. If a blood clot forms and blocks the artery, a heart attack may happen. Likewise, if a blood clot blocks an artery leading to or in the brain, a stroke may occur.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.

HDL and LDL Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (“good”) and LDL (“bad”). It’s important to know your levels of each. Too much of one type – or not enough of another – can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
HDL is the “good” cholesterol which helps keep the LDL “bad” cholesterol from lodging in your artery walls. When too much LDL circulates in the blood, it can clog arteries, and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Testing

A Lipid Panel is a blood test that measures your level of HDL, LDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. A healthy level of HDL may protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL for men, and less than 50 mg/dL for women) have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
Treatment

HDL – If you need to increase your HDL to reach your goals, regular physical activity (at least 150 minutes/week of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes/week of vigorous physical activity such as jogging or running) can help your body produce more HDL. Reducing trans fats and eating a balanced nutritious diet is another way to increase your HDL. If you smoke, then quitting smoking can also increase your HDL. If these measures are not sufficient, your healthcare provider may prescribe a medication specifically to increase your HDL.

LDL – Many people inherit genetics that cause them to make too much LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Unfortunately, eating saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol can also increase LDL cholesterol. As a result, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to help lower your LDL cholesterol.

So, work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that’s best for you.

New Cardiovascular Prevention Guidelines

On November 12, 2013, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new cardiovascular prevention guidelines to help prevent heart disease and stroke. The guidelines begin with a personalized assessment of your risks performed by your healthcare provider, who will then discuss personalized treatment for you. For more information, visit heart.org.

As Metropolitan Medical Laboratory celebrates our 100th year in 2014, your good health continues to be our passion. Follow your doctor’s advice. Limit your cholesterol intake, and take care of your heart!

Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, PLC is one of the largest accredited laboratories in the states of Illinois and Iowa, and has provided this community with quality laboratory services for 100 years. Visit www.metromedlab.com. See Metro’s NEWEST location at the intersection of John Deere Road & 53rd Street in Moline:

5401 44th Avenue Drive
Moline, Illinois 61265
Phone (309) 736-7370;
Fax (309) 736-7344
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 7 am – 6 pm;
Sat. 8 am – noon

Tell your doctor, “I want to go to Metro.