How does my doctor measure my cholesterol?|
A simple blood test will give you and your doctor information that you
need to know about your cholesterol level. A blood sample is taken from
a vein in your arm and sent to the laboratory at your local hospital
for testing. This will tell you and your doctor about your levels of
total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
often should I get my cholesterol checked?
This depends on each patient's individual profile. Experts recommend
that you get your cholesterol checked in full by your doctor once every
five years. Based on the results and your overall risk for heart disease,
your cholesterol should be checked between one and five yearly. Your
doctor will work with you to monitor your cholesterol on an ongoing
Why is high cholesterol a health risk?
High cholesterol is a serious health risk because it can lead to coronary
heart disease. Cardiovascular (heart) disease is the most common cause
of death in Ireland, causing 43% of all deaths in 1997. More distressing
still, perhaps, is the fact that cardiovascular disease also accounts
for a very high proportion of premature mortality, ie. death before
the age of 65. The American Heart Association says that elevated cholesterol
is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Risk factors for
heart disease can be both modifiable (something can be done to reduce
them) and non-modifiable.
While not all risk
factors for heart attacks can be changed, such as your age or family
history, there are many that can be modified. The following is a list
of risk factors that may affect you:
High LDL cholesterol.
Low HDL cholesterol.
High blood pressure.
Family history of heart disease.
Low levels of physical activity.
Raised blood glucose.
Each risk factor will speed up the development of plaques on the walls
of your arteries. It is important to identify risk factors and eliminate
or modify as many as you can. This can slow the development of plaques
on your arteries (atherosclerosis) and help prevent a heart attack.
It is vital that you work with your doctor to reduce your risk. Understanding
the risks is one major step in heart attack prevention. But it's important
to do something about it too. Regular medical check ups can help. Your
doctor can make sure that these risk factors are treated and help you
to develop a healthy heart lifestyle.
does a high cholesterol level contribute to heart disease?
artery has a smooth even surface inside. When too much cholesterol builds
up on the walls of the arteries, plaques start to form. The build up
of plaque narrows the artery so your heart must work harder to pump
the blood around your body. Plaques limit the blood flow and, if they
rupture, can form blood clots. In severe cases plaques can completely
block an artery supplying the heart muscle or a major artery supplying
the brain. This results in a heart attack or stroke.
common is high cholesterol?
Experts estimate that in the US almost one in three (30%) adults
approximately 56.5 million people - have high LDL cholesterol that requires
dietary intervention or drug therapy. It is also estimated that only
a third (34%) of these individuals have been diagnosed with high cholesterol.
In real terms this means that two out of every three people who should
be treated do not even know they have it.
Can lowering my elevated cholesterol
level help protect against heart disease?
Quite simply, yes. Research has shown that a 1% decrease in cholesterol
levels leads to a 2% decrease in the risk of heart disease. Additional
studies have shown that lowering your cholesterol level can help prevent
heart attacks and save lives.