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Cholesterol Education

High blood cholesterol can increase a person’s risk for coronary heart disease, but a few lifestyle changes can lower one’s cholesterol level and improve health.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans and one of the risk factors for heart disease is high cholesterol.  Cholesterol is a substance that occurs naturally in the body and when it is too high, can cause a build up of plaque in the heart vessels, says Dr. Tiffany Malli, assistant professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She says several things can affect cholesterol levels.

SOUND BITE:   “There are a few things that affect your cholesterol.  One of them is a high cholesterol diet, having foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, those kinds of things can increase your cholesterol levels in the body.  Another thing that can also influence this is being overweight or obese.  So leading a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight can increase your cholesterol levels.”

Dr. Malli says cholesterol is measured with a specific blood test, which is done after fasting for nine hours.  The test results will provide various readings for cholesterol.  She explains the ideal readings --

SOUND BITE:    “. . . if we were to say just in the general population of individuals for cholesterol goals, the LDL or bad cholesterol we would like to be less than 130 and the HDL or good cholesterol to be above 40 for men and above 50 for women, but like I said it’s important to be above to talk to your doctor about your individual goals for cholesterol levels.”

Dr. Malli advises all adults to see their personal physician and have their cholesterol checked regularly.  If cholesterol readings are not in a healthy range, the physician may recommend lifestyle changes as well as medication to lower cholesterol.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.