High cholesterol is often a silent condition in women, but it carries significant risk for heart attack and stroke if left uncontrolled.
Know Your Cholesterol
It is important to know two kinds of cholesterol: the bad kind (LDL) and the good kind (HDL). Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is commonly known as “bad” cholesterol because over time it causes plaque formation in the arteries, whereas HDL is considered protective against heart disease. In general, a desirable LDL level falls below 130 mg/dL, while a desirable HDL level stays above 50 mg/dL for women. Another form of cholesterol LP(a), which is a genetic variant of a particularly bad form of cholesterol. In addition to getting cholesterol checked regularly, it may be a good idea to get screened for LP(a) early on to help determine your risk of heart disease.
Base your meals around fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and keep red meat to a minimum. Also, add things like fish, olive oil, avocado and nuts to your diet to equip your body with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studied for their heart health benefits. Lastly, drink alcohol in moderation (one drink per day for women) and cut back on salty foods and sugary drinks to help ward off bad cholesterol
Know the Stats
In Georgia, heart disease and stroke account for 28.2 percent of all female deaths, according to the American Heart Association. Some things you can do to minimize your risk from an early age are:
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes, five days a week.
- Reduce stress levels. High stress situations may tempt you to overeat high-fat foods, which in turn raise LDL cholesterol.
- Watch your weight. Weight loss can both raise HDL and lower LDL.