Children, young adults and older Americans can have high cholesterol. Consider getting your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high. Learn about lipid profiles and about food and lifestyle choices that help you reach personal cholesterol goals. How many Americans have high cholesterol? More than 102 million American Adults (20 years or older) have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL, which is above healthy levels. More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk for heart disease. What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries. After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. How do you know if your cholesterol is high? High cholesterol usually doesn't have any symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol levels are too high. However, doctors can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol. High cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes or if it is not enough, through medications. It's important to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Have you had your cholesterol levels checked in a while? Talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol levels checked.
Cholesterol is a major component to your health. High blood cholesterol can be a major contributor to heart disease and stroke, which is why you should have your cholesterol levels checked during your annual physical. Cholesterol screenings measure your level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), and triglycerides. A small sample of blood will be drawn to get an accurate reading during your screening. All samples are generally taken at the same time and analyzed in a laboratory to give you accurate results. Avoiding food consumption, beverages and often medications, also known as fasting, is common for cholesterol screening preparation. Your physician will tell you if you should fast in advance (generally nine to 12 hours prior to your appointment). If you do not fast when the blood sample is drawn, only the values for total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol will be usable. This is often the case because the amount of LDL and triglycerides can be affected by what you have recently consumed. When you screening is complete, your physician will interpret your cholesterol numbers based on your age, family history and other factors such as high blood pressure or whether you are or were a smoker. If you are over the age of 20 years, you should have your cholesterol checked every four to six years. If your risk factors are higher, you may need to have your cholesterol checked more often. Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and how often you should have it checked.