Keeping a close eye on your cholesterol levels is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Cholesterol comes from two places: your body and your food. Your body — specifically your liver — creates and uses cholesterol to keep you healthy. Most high cholesterol is inherited from your family, but you can also get cholesterol from foods like meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. The liver creates more cholesterol when you consume a diet high in saturated and trans fats.
There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). When your body creates or contains excess cholesterol, the cholesterol can form plaque between layers of artery walls, which makes it harder for your heart to circulate blood. Plaque can narrow your arteries and cause blood clots, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Smoking makes this much worse.
More than 71 million Americans have high cholesterol, but only a third of them have the situation under control. While making healthy dietary choices and exercising regularly are important when it comes to managing your cholesterol, it might not always be enough. Additionally, high cholesterol levels usually don't cause any symptoms. That's why it's important to have a cholesterol screening at least once every five years.
A cholesterol screening is a simple blood test that measures the total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood and can help determine your risk of plaque buildup in your arteries. Once you've received a screening, your healthcare provider can decide whether your cholesterol can be effectively managed with a healthy diet and active lifestyle or if further treatment, such as medication, is needed.
For most cholesterol screenings, your provider will require you to fast for 12 hours beforehand. However, not all cholesterol screenings require fasting, so be sure to consult your provider.
Visit a primary care provider at Goshen Hospital to learn more about heart health and schedule your cholesterol screening.