Understanding Cholesterol Is a Key to Good Health

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We hear about cholesterol all the time, but how many African–Americans actually know what it is and how it affects our health? Like most things in nature, cholesterol has a good side and a bad side. Achieving and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol requires an understanding of how this important substance affects our bodies and how regular health screenings along with lifestyle choices related to diet and exercise will impact our overall health and well–being.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an essential substance that aids in the formation of the body’s cells and hormones. Cholesterol is produced in the liver and sent out to do its work in the body immersed with other fats called low–density lipoproteins or LDL. When cholesterol has done its job, it’s carried back to the liver to be cleaned and eliminated from the body by another kind of lipoproteins – high–density lipoproteins or HDL.

Problems occur when there is an excess of LDL cholesterol in the body. Only a small amount is needed for the production of vitamins, bile and cell membranes and the body produces a sufficient amount by itself. Unused LDL cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the arteries as fat deposits that can block the free flow of blood and oxygen to vital organs like the heart and brain and result in heart attack or stroke.

Through a simple blood test, your doctor will regularly monitor the level of both LDL and HDL cholesterol in your body as an important indicator of your health status. Research tells us that an excellent reading of LDL levels is 100mg or less while a level of 190mg or above is considered dangerously high and puts Black patients at risk for a serious cardiovascular incident. An HDL reading of 60mg or above indicates that the body is doing an excellent job of ridding itself of excess cholesterol, while a reading of less than 40mg signals a health risk.

What You Can Do To Stay In Balance

Medical research recently pinpointed heredity as a major factor for some Black people with high cholesterol levels. So, if you have a family history of high cholesterol, it’s especially important that you know what your cholesterol level is and monitor changes carefully. However, every African American, regardless of hereditary disposition, should eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats, get regular exercise, avoid smoking and monitor blood pressure levels. All of these are contributing factors to high cholesterol levels that can be deadly.

Research has also identified Diabetes as a high–risk condition made even riskier when high LDL cholesterol levels are present. In fact, medical experts now agree that African–American Diabetics, population group already prone towards heart attack and stroke, should include a new category of drug called statins to their daily medication schedule to keep cholesterol levels in check. The drugs Lipitor and Crestor are examples of statin catagory drugs.

Take steps to understand how this important substance can impact your health today!

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