Getting your cholesterol screening is an essential part of preventive healthcare for both men and women. Making sure your cholesterol levels are in check can dramatically reduce the chances of developing some of the most deadly diseases in our country such as coronary artery disease and strokes.
The only way to know your level of risk is to get checked!
So What Does A Cholesterol Screenings Check For?
A complete cholesterol screening, also known as a lipid profile, helps to ensure that this critical substance is in good balance in your body. Cholesterol screenings check for all of the most important aspects of cholesterol. These include the three main forms of cholesterol: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.
A complete cholesterol test includes the calculation of four types of fats in your blood:
- Total cholesterol- This is a sum of your blood’s total cholesterol content.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol- This is called the “bad” cholesterol. Too much of it in your blood causes the buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries (atherosclerosis), which reduces blood flow. These plaques sometimes break off and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol- This is called the “good” cholesterol because it helps carry away LDL cholesterol, thus keeping arteries open and your blood flowing more freely.
- Triglycerides- Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. When you eat, your body converts calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells. High triglyceride levels are associated with several factors, including being overweight, eating too many sweets, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, being sedentary, or having diabetes with elevated blood sugar levels.
Why Getting A Cholesterol Screening Is Important
A cholesterol test can help determine your risk for the buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries that can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries throughout your body (atherosclerosis).
A cholesterol test is a very important tool. High cholesterol levels often are a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease. High cholesterol usually causes no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you are at risk is to get checked. A complete cholesterol test is done to determine whether your cholesterol is high and to estimate your risk of heart attacks and other forms of heart disease and diseases of the blood vessels.
By getting checked periodically (most doctors recommend every 3-5 years), you can ensure that you are on top of your cholesterol levels. Your doctor will also likely recommend some lifestyle adjustments should you be found to be at risk. These could include exercising more, eating more or less of certain types of food, or reducing stress levels.
When Should You Get Checked?
As mentioned, it is important to get checked every 3-5 years based on your current health status. If you are overweight,have a high body mass index (BMI), or a family history of heart disease, your doctor may recommend getting checked more often in order to prevent any potential risk factors and diseases from developing.
Men are also at a higher risk than women, which makes it imperative to get checked regularly. Also, if you have diabetes, your risk of cholesterol causing issues increases substantially. This makes it essential to get checked every year to two to be safe and prevent\possible complications later on.
How To Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
If you want to have healthy cholesterol levels, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your body does not build up excessive levels of unhealthy cholesterol.
- Reduce saturated fats- Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat, full-fat dairy products and fried foods, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your levels of LDL.
- Eliminate trans fats- Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarine and store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes. Trans fats are one of the main causes of high cholesterol.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids- Omega-3 fatty acids are “good” fats that don’t affect LDL cholesterol, but have other heart-healthy benefits including reducing blood pressure and triglycerides. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Essentially, fish and plant based sources of fats.
- Increase soluble fiber- Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.
Be sure to follow these steps and periodically get your cholesterol levels checked.
Schedule Your Cholesterol Screening With Imperial Center Family Medicine
Imperial Center Family Medicine has been meeting the medical needs of families in the Triangle Area since 1999. Their experienced providers offer primary and preventative services to help manage the ongoing health and wellness needs of their community. Reach out today to Imperial Family Medicine with any questions regarding cholesterol or to have your levels checked.