State health department urges Missourians to get cholesterol checked

State health department urges Missourians to get cholesterol checkedLess means more when it comes to your cholesterol and your health

Less cholesterol in your blood means you’re more likely to live a long and healthy life.
Officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services are reminding residents that high cholesterol can lead to heart disease – the number one killer in Missouri.

Lisa Britt, a health educator with the department’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, noted that September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time for Missourians to have their cholesterol levels checked and to adopt lifestyle changes that can help prevent or reduce high cholesterol.

“High cholesterol has no symptoms, but a simple blood test can tell you what you need to know,” said Britt.

Britt said that high cholesterol is on the rise in Missouri. Between 1995 and 2005, the number of adults over 18 who had their cholesterol checked and showed elevated cholesterol levels increased by one-third, from 28.8 percent to 38.7 percent. Last year, that rate increased slightly again to 39.5 percent.

Adults over 20 should have a blood test at least every five years to monitor their cholesterol levels. The state health department recommends a lipoprotein profile test, which provides several important numbers, including:

· Total cholesterol
· LDL cholesterol (commonly known as bad cholesterol) – creates the main source of buildup and blockage in the arteries
· HDL cholesterol (commonly known as good cholesterol) – helps keep cholesterol from building up in arteries
· Triglycerides – another form of fat in the blood

The lipoprotein profile test must be done after a nine to 12 hour fast. If that is not possible, a simpler test can be done that determines total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

A total cholesterol level of less than 200 is desirable. A level of 200 to 239 is borderline high, while a level of 240 and above is considered high.

An LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 is considered optimal. A reading of 160 to 189 is high, and a level of 190 or above is very high.

An HDL cholesterol level should be 60 or higher. A reading below 40 is too low for optimum health.

If your LDL cholesterol level is high, you can make some changes to decrease it. To reduce cholesterol levels:

· Know your cholesterol numbers
· Take your medicine regularly
· Get regular physical exercise
· Maintain a healthy weight

Britt said people with high cholesterol should also visit their doctor regularly so their cholesterol level can be closely monitored.

More information and a cholesterol fact sheet can be found at http://www.dhss.mo.gov/Cholesterol.

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