Weekly health briefs rail.
Health Watch: Control your cholesterol
By More Content Now
Tip of the Week
If you’ve been diagnosed with high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, know that you are not alone.
“It’s important for each patient to work with their doctor to discuss the most effective treatment plan for their high cholesterol,” says Dr. Vivian Fonseca, professor of medicine and pharmacology at Tulane University Health Sciences Center. “In some cases, dietary changes and increased exercise is all that is needed for cholesterol control. For others, medication also is needed.”
Defining “high” cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance, and some cholesterol is needed for your body to function normally. However, having too much “bad” cholesterol and not enough “good” cholesterol can cause plaque to build up on the walls of your arteries, putting you at elevated risk for heart disease and stroke.
Since high “bad” cholesterol doesn’t cause many symptoms, a great deal of people may not realize their levels are too high, underscoring the importance of getting cholesterol levels checked. Doctors recommend adults have their cholesterol levels screened every five years (sooner if you already have been diagnosed with high cholesterol). A blood test can determine your cholesterol levels.
Controlling your weight, staying physically active and making healthful food choices can help lower “bad” cholesterol. For many people, however, heredity plays a role and even with lifestyle changes, their “bad” cholesterol may continue to be too high. In those cases, a doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce the “bad” cholesterol.
Treating “bad” cholesterol
When more than diet and exercise is needed to treat high cholesterol, most people are treated with a class of medications called “statins.” If the use of a statin by itself is not getting cholesterol under control, another type of medicine called Welchol may be added to further lower “bad” cholesterol levels.
If you’re not sure about your cholesterol levels, see your doctor to schedule a blood test. Since high cholesterol typically has no symptoms, if you wait to see a doctor until you feel sick, it could be too late to prevent serious health problems.
Number to Know
71 million: It is estimated that 71 million Americans have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, putting them at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Despite this, less than half of these adults with high “bad” cholesterol have been treated and even less actually have their cholesterol under control.
Cooking is a great activity because the whole family can get involved. Assign everyone a job, like peeling, mixing or measuring. Kids can even practice their reading skills by reading the recipe aloud from a cookbook.
Hearing aids can help people with some hearing loss, but may be less effective in certain situations where older adults have the most difficulty hearing, such as understanding speech in a place with a lot of background noise, like a restaurant. For people whose hearing has declined to levels considered severe to profound deafness, cochlear implants are an increasingly common option.
Small weight gains on weekends are normal — and even indulging a bit may help you lose weight long-term, CNN reports. A new study has found that as long as you’re flexible and keep to eating the appropriate amount and type of food during the week, having weekend “cheat days” isn’t a bad thing.
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