Following our last post on Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness, September is also Cholesterol Education Month. While being a risk factor for many diseases, high cholesterol has many risks in itself, and we would like to take this opportunity to inform our Eastern Shore community about the basics of this condition and provide some resources to improve the lives of those in Vienna, Mardela Springs, Pocomoke City, and throughout the Eastern Shore.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is created by your Liver and can be derived from your diet, specifically foods from animal sources such as diary and red meats. Although it often gets a bad wrap, Cholesterol is a substance your body needs to create hormones and cell membranes. That said, too much of this substance, particularly Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is a risk factor for Heart Disease, Stroke, Heart Attack, and a variety of other metabolic and cardiovascular conditions.
There are several common misconceptions the American Heart Association has identified that we would like to discuss as particularly important for our clients. Specifically, the misconceptions “thin people don’t have high cholesterol” and “with medications, no lifestyle changes are needed”. While it is true overweight and obese people are more likely to develop high cholesterol, those who have a hard time gaining weight are often less aware of the amount of saturated and trans fats, two ingredients found in processed fast foods, they consume. High consumption of these ingredients even when a person does not gain weight are not considered heart-healthy. Also, although medications to control cholesterol are helpful, adding diet and lifestyle changes can be very beneficial to decrease your stroke and heart attack risk.
We have found several resources to help our community understand Cholesterol and what can be done to improve health. These include the American Heart Associations’ webpages on Understanding & Managing Cholesterol and Cholesterol Lifestyle+Risk Reduction. Additionally the CDC has information about cholesterol, getting your numbers checked, risks, and management and prevention, which can be found HERE. If you have questions or would like to know more about your cholesterol levels, please contact your healthcare professional.