September is Designated as National Cholesterol Education Month
National Cholesterol Education Month, celebrated each year in September, is dedicated to raise awareness among the population on how important it is to check one’s cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like matter made by your liver. It is found in the blood and is needed by your body to complete its functions. Kimberly Porter, a family nurse at the Center for Healthy Living on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus says that, “Our bodies need cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D and a substance that helps us digest foods.”
Although it is important for our body, doctors tell people to eat as little cholesterol as possible because too much can be bad. High cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are common causes of death in the US.
According to Kimberly Porter, “Cholesterol comes from foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese and milk. Our liver also makes cholesterol; so, eating foods high in fat may raise one’s cholesterol.” Keeping track of the foods you eat can help to decrease the level of unhealthy cholesterol in your body.
Other than diet, high cholesterol can be caused by many different factors including your health, lifestyle, and family history. Some risk factors are beyond your control, but there are some things you can do to lower your risk of high cholesterol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eating a diet high in fat, heart disease, not getting enough physical activity, weight gain, and smoking may contribute to the development of high cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol, sometimes small can blockages, called plaques, build up inside your blood vessels. Plaques develop when cholesterol sticks to the wall of the artery. These blockages can slow down blood flow through the veins which can cause chest pain, heart attack, and stroke and can be fatal.
Our bodies need cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can lead to problems. Maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, and checking cholesterol levels regularly can lower the risk of developing high cholesterol.
For additional information about cholesterol, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/index.htm.