Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

April 2010 Wellness Tip

 

Cholesterol Facts

Blood cholesterol plays an important part in deciding a person's chance or risk of getting coronary heart disease. The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk.
 
High cholesterol in itself does not have symptoms.  As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol level is too high, unless they get tested.
 
Next Wednesday, April 7th, the Wellness Committee is sponsoring health screenings in Steinman College Center, including a cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure screening free of charge in Booth-Ferris North.  The test is a non-fasting finger stick test performed by nurses from Lancaster General Hospital and results will be provided immediately.  Appointments are still available at:  /x18286
 
When you have too much cholesterol in the blood, the excess builds up on the walls of the arteries that carry blood to the heart.  It narrows the arteries and can slow down or block blood flow to the heart.
 
Your blood cholesterol level is influenced by many factors:  what you eat, being overweight, amount of physical activity, heredity, and age and sex.
 
Although more women than men have high cholesterol in the United States, men between the ages 35-54 tend to have higher cholesterol levels than women.  Around age 55 or after menopause, a woman’s cholesterol level goes up and so does her risk of heart disease.
 
Approximately one in every six adults – 16.3 percent of the United States adult population – has high total cholestrol.  The level defined as high total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL and above.  People with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk of heart disease as people with optimal levels.  A desirable level is lower than 200 mg/dL.
Even though there are differences between men and women when it comes to heart disease and cholesterol, there is one thing that is equal between the two: their ability to alter their lifestyles.  Following a diet that is limited in fat, sugars, and alcohol will help maintain a healthy cholesterol level and may prevent a heart attack.  Controlling weight increases the amount of good (HDL) cholesterol in the body which helps carry the bad (LDL) cholesterol out of the system. Consuming more fiber in your diet also helps to increase the ratio of good cholesterol to bad in the body.

Cindi Dinger, on behalf of the Wellness Committee

*Information from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute of the National Institutes for Health  and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.