Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a soapy, greasy material found in your body and in foods such as egg yolks, cheese and meats. Cholesterol is also made by your liver. It is an important substance that is used by your body to help make hormones and bile. Bile is needed to help digest food. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it begins to build up on the inside of your blood vessels thereby making them narrow and blocking the flow of blood. This is one cause of increased blood pressure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists risk factors of high cholesterol. Unhealthy eating habits. Eating a high fat diet on a regular basis will not only increase bad cholesterol levels but will cause increased weight. An unhealthy diet will cause known chronic illness problems.

Genetic factors. If you are genetically prone to have increased cholesterol levels, it is all more important you limit the amount of cholesterol ingested. Smoking. There are thousands of medical study material that link smoking to chronic illness. Smoking has been scientifically proven that it is a root cause for many catastrophic illness.
There is no scientific data stating smoking is healthy.
Medications. There are certain medications that will elevate cholesterol levels. It is wise to discuss treatment plans with your doctor. Be pro-active. Prepare a list of well thought out questions prior to seeing your doctor.

Get your blood cholesterol level checked annually. More often if your doctor requests to. Blood contains different types of lipids, also known as blood fats. Your doctor will will be able to get a general idea of your risk of cardiovascular disease by comparing the different levels of fats. The lipid panel consists of total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides.

We know we cannot change intrinsic factors. But we can change extrinsic factors.
You are the catalyst to change. First and foremost change bad dietary habits. Choose fish, lean meats, chicken. Choose grilling and broiling over frying. Cook with olive oil instead of butter. Avoid trans fats found in chips, cookies, fries. Increase fiber. Choose whole grain and brown rice over white rice and white breads. Choose foods high in Vitamins B, C, and E. Found in green leafy vegetables, fruits and carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. Nutrition plays an important role in staying healthy or in some case staying unhealthy.

Exercise regularly. Exercising is very simple and easy to do. Simply incorporate 30 minutes everyday into your activities of daily living. Walk. Bike. Jog. Hike. Swim. Aerobic dance. Walk stairs. Run in place. Do whatever physical activity you enjoy. The idea here is strengthen your heart. The above listed do not require expensive gym memberships. Stop smoking. Keep alcohol comsumption moderate. Limit yourself to 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day. Bottom line, when it comes to keeping your heart healthy, why so many excuses?

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN