What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an essential substance for growth and development that is produced naturally by the body in your liver. However, when you consume certain foods, you can introduce additional cholesterol into your body that can build up in the arterial walls.
When this build up occurs, the cholesterol can harden, making it more difficult for blood to travel to your heart. This process, called atherosclerosis, can be deadly.
What are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is accompanied by very few symptoms. Sever atherosclerosis may be identified by by sharp chest pain (angina). However, if left untreated, a blocked artery can quickly lead to a life-threatening heart attack. Get your cholesterol checked today in order to prevent your risk for atherosclerosis.
Do I need a Cholesterol Test?
According to WebMD, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends tests for:
- Men age 35 or older
- Men ages 20-39 who have risk factors for heart disease
- Women age 20 and older who have risk factors for heart disease
- Adults who have coronary artery disease
- Adults who have diabetes
How Often Should I have my Cholesterol Tested?
Typically, cholesterol should be checked regularly (every 4 to 6 years) for adults ages 20-79. If you are currently being treated for high cholesterol, then you may require more frequent testing to guarantee effective monitoring of your numbers. Doctors will consider your current levels, risk for heart disease, and other health complications when determining how often to do your tests.
How Should I Prepare for My Next Test?
Depending on the type of test you are undergoing, preparation may require more or less work on your part. In general, always follow your doctor’s instructions carefully before taking your test. If necessary, fast before your test:
- Avoid food and drinks for 9-12 hours before your test.
- Stay away from foods that are high in fat the night before your test.
- Avoid alcohol and strenuous exercise before your test.
- Inform your doctor of any prescription and non-prescription medications you take.
How Do I Interpret My Numbers?
The numbers from your cholesterol readings alone will not reveal specifically which actions you need to take in order to remain healthy. Your age, blood pressure, prescription medications, and tobacco use are all factors that, when combined with information from your cholesterol evaluation, can help you and your doctor determine a strategy for lowering your risk of heart disease.