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(Family Features) Heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death for men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but many people aren’t aware they may be at elevated risk. More than 71 million adults in the United States have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and nearly 50 million don’t have it under control, which puts them at higher risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.

What’s more, nearly one-third (31%) of US adults are not aware that having high cholesterol puts them at greater risk for heart attack and stroke, according to the findings of a recent study conducted by The Harris Poll commissioned by Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. The poll also revealed some inconsistent understanding about treatment options available for those with uncontrolled cholesterol. Fully 3 in 10 (30%) of those taking statins believe statins are the only LDL lowering treatment available for those with high LDL cholesterol.

“In car racing, the red flag means danger on the track, stopping the race immediately,” said Dr. JoAnne Foody, chief medical officer at Esperion. “We are launching a patient education program, ‘Wave the Red Flag,’ to encourage people with uncontrolled high cholesterol to have their levels checked right away and discuss appropriate treatment options with their health care provider.”

If your high cholesterol is uncontrolled, understanding how you can achieve greater control can reduce your risk for serious health conditions, including potentially life-threatening cardiovascular events.

Consider these tips to get high cholesterol under control.

Talk to your doctor. Speaking with your physician is an important first step to managing any health condition. Your doctor can help you understand the severity of your condition and whether a treatment plan should be moderate or aggressive.

Check your progress. Keeping tabs on your cholesterol can help you and your health care team gauge whether your treatment plan is working. If you don’t have heart disease, you may not need to check as frequently, but your doctor can recommend the appropriate intervals to help manage your cholesterol most effectively.

Take medications as prescribed. Statins are the medications most often recommended by treatment guidelines for the management of blood cholesterol, and nearly one-third (30%) of those taking statins believe they are the only cholesterol-lowering treatment available, according to the survey. However, even with maximal statin therapy, some patients with chronic disease do not meet recommended LDL cholesterol levels. Taking your medications regularly and as instructed helps your doctor determine whether additional therapies – including non-statin treatments – could be useful to help manage your blood cholesterol.

Make lifestyle adjustments. Your diet plays a major role in lowering LDL cholesterol. Limiting fatty foods, especially those that are high in saturated and trans fats, is key. Monitoring your overall diet and exercising can also help reduce your risk of high cholesterol. Even if you don’t have high cholesterol, adopting more cholesterol-friendly habits can help prevent your levels from rising to unhealthy levels in the future.

To find additional information about managing your high cholesterol, talk to your health care provider and visit WaveTheRedFlag.info.

Fast Facts About Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?
The liver creates a fat-like waxy substance called cholesterol. It serves useful purposes for the body, including producing hormones and helping digest food.

How do you get high cholesterol?
The human body makes all the cholesterol it needs naturally, so any cholesterol you eat is cholesterol you don’t need. However, it can be difficult to avoid because you can find dietary cholesterol in many common foods, including meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy. Other non-dietary contributing factors include health conditions like obesity and diabetes, as well as family history and advancing age.

What is a normal cholesterol level?
An average optimal level of LDL cholesterol is about 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
An average optimal level of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol is at least 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women. HDL cholesterol can actually lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Are there symptoms of high cholesterol?
Unlike many health conditions, there are rarely any symptoms that your cholesterol is high. That’s what makes regular screening so important.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
Esperion