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Lengemann: High cholesterol is a health threat to both men and women

In the past, high cholesterol was considered to be a man’s problem. But women are at risk as well. 

In fact, 56 million women in the U.S. have high cholesterol and many don’t know it.

Cholesterol is a lipid, or fat, that’s needed for essential bodily processes like rebuilding cells. Your liver produces almost 75 percent of the cholesterol in your body, with the rest coming from your diet. 

What’s more, there are different types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

HDL or “good” cholesterol makes your heart healthier by carrying bad cholesterol to the liver, where it’s broken down and eliminated.  When you get your blood tested, you want your HDL (good) level to be above 50 mg/dL.

When your blood contains more LDL than HDL, or more “bad” than “good” cholesterol, LDL particles stay in the bloodstream. Excess LDL can then clog your arteries and make them hard, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke. Your LDL level should be less than, or near, 100 mg/dL.

According to the American Heart Association, all women over 20 years old need a cholesterol test at least every five years – a total cholesterol score of less than 200 mg/dL is considered good. 

To help manage your cholesterol and stay in good health overall, eat a balanced diet, high in fiber, and incorporate fruits and vegetables. 

Also, exercise 30 minutes, three to four days per week, and don’t smoke.

Dr. James Lengemann is an internal medicine physician with and medical director of Edward Medical Group. 

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