Five Myths And Facts About Cholesterol
North American Precis Syndicate
Now is the time to understand and manage your cholesterol. (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—High cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease
and stroke and is estimated to cause nearly 2.6 million deaths annually. Yet,
a survey from the American Heart Association shows that nearly two-thirds of
people who have high cholesterol don’t think they’re at high risk
for a heart attack or stroke.
“My Cholesterol Guide” is a new, online tool that provides
information, practical tips and downloadable resources to help the more than
94.6 million Americans living with high cholesterol. The guide is the latest
offering from the American Heart Association, the world’s leading
voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease and
What it is
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance found in all cells of the body. Elevated
levels of blood cholesterol can create blockages in the arteries and is one
of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart
attack and stroke.
“People with high cholesterol usually don’t have symptoms, so
unless you get tested, you may not realize you need treatment,” said
Ann Marie Navar, M.D., Ph.D., a volunteer member of the Association’s
Cholesterol Advisory Committee and an Assistant Professor of Cardiology at
the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C. “Even though we
have a lot of evidence about the benefits and safety of cholesterol-lowering
treatment, the challenge is that cholesterol remains underdiagnosed and
What to do
The best way to manage high cholesterol is a multipronged approach,
including diet, exercise and medication if cholesterol levels remain
elevated, she said.
The challenge is that many people don’t recognize their risk due to
some of the following misconceptions about cholesterol.
Myths and Facts
Myth 1--High cholesterol isn’t
a concern for children.
High cholesterol can be hereditary. Familial hypercholesterolemia is a
genetic disorder that can cause early heart disease. If someone is diagnosed
with extremely high cholesterol or familial hypercholesterolemia, it’s
important that all family members get tested, including young adults and
children, so that treatment isn’t delayed, Navar said.
Myth 2--You don’t need a
cholesterol check until you’re middle-aged.
Getting your cholesterol checked starting at age 20 and talking with your
health provider to ensure you understand what it means is crucial because
getting treated early can play an important role in reducing the risk of
“For every decade your cholesterol is high in your 30s and 40s, you
increase your risk for heart disease by more than 30 percent,” Navar
Myth 3--Thin people don’t
have high cholesterol.
Overweight people are more likely to have high cholesterol, but even
people who maintain a healthy weight and regular exercise can have high
“Since genetics does play such an important role, some people may be
doing everything right and still have high cholesterol,” she said.
Myth 4--If the nutrition label
shows no cholesterol, a food is “heart healthy.”
Nutrition labels can be helpful, but you should read beyond the amount of
cholesterol a food contains.
“It’s important to look for saturated fats, trans fats and
added sugars because these all affect our heart health and cholesterol
levels,” Navar said.
Myth 5--Only people with “high”
cholesterol need medicine to lower their cholesterol.
“Even people whose cholesterol falls within what we would call ‘normal’
range can benefit from having cholesterol-lowering medication if they have
other risks for heart disease or stroke,” Navar said. “Beyond
just your cholesterol numbers, knowing your overall risk of heart disease can
help determine if you need to be on treatment.”
Where to learn more
The American Heart Association’s Check.Change.Control.Cholesterol
initiative, supported by Sanofi and Regeneron, has information and resources
for identifying and managing your cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk
factors. Visit www.heart.org/cholesterol
for further facts, and www.heart.org/MyCholesterolGuide
to download the free guide.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)