September is National Cholesterol Education Month, and according to the CDC, seventy-one million American adults have high cholesterol, but only one-third of them have the condition under control. Now is a good time to get screened. It could save your life.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs, but if you have too much in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages---leading to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is also called "good" cholesterol, and LDL is known as "bad" cholesterol.
Sadly, too many Americans are walking around with high "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, due to several reasons including an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise, smoking, and maintaining an unhealthy weight.
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years, but others factors make you a candidate for having it checked more often:
Your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher.
You are a man older than age 45 or a woman older than age 50.
Your HDL cholesterol is lower than 40 mg/dL.
You have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
Heart disease and stroke are two leading causes of death in the United States, and one way to prevent these diseases is to detect high cholesterol and treat it when it is found.