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Friday, July 12, 2024


September is National Cholesterol Education Month and this year’s message is "Keep the Beat — Cholesterol Counts for Everyone."
The message from the National Cholesterol Education Program is a reminder that in order to keep the heart beating long and strong, everyone needs to know the status of their cholesterol count.
The desired total blood cholesterol level is less than 200mg/dl; borderline high is 200-239mg/dl and high is 240mg/dl and greater.
Why is knowing your blood cholesterol level important? Because it is one of the three main controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, the number-one killer in America and the Virgin Islands. Most coronary heart disease is due to blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.
Fat and cholesterol circulating in the blood are deposited on the inner walls of the arteries. The arteries become narrower as the deposits build up. A hardening of the arteries results, which is called atherosclerosis.
When an artery is dangerously narrowed and becomes obstructed, the result is a heart attack.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all foods of animal origin and is part of every animal cell. Your body needs cholesterol to make essential body substances, such as cell walls and hormones. However, even if you didn’t consume cholesterol, your liver would produce enough to take care of the body’s needs.
It’s never too late to lower your cholesterol level, even if you’ve experienced a heart attack or have heart disease. Lowering cholesterol can help you live healthier and longer. If you are healthy, lowering your cholesterol can help prevent heart disease from developing.
Here is a list of step you can take to lower your cholesterol, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program:

  • Find out your cholesterol numbers. Have your cholesterol checked as part of your yearly medical check-up. Discuss with your doctor other risk factors like family history, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and physical activity.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Good choices include fruits and vegetables, skim milk, low-fat yogurt, cereals and whole grain breads. Cut back on fried foods and foods with gravy. Try grilling or broiling skinless poultry, fish or lean meats. Instead of high-fat desserts like cake, cheesecake and pie, choose sorberts, sherbets, nonfat frozen yogurt, graham crackers or low-fat baked goods.
  • Be physically active. Check with your doctor, but most people can follow a plan of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days. Examples include walking, gardening, dancing, swimming and golfing. If you are pressed for time, divide the 30 minutes into three 10 minute intervals or two 15 minute intervals.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises your cholesterol level and increases your risk of heart disease.
  • Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking is a strong risk factor for heart disease, lung cancer and other cancers.

So "Keep the Beat" and find out your cholesterol count. For more information contact Nurse Witmer at 773-1311 ext. 3166. Nurse Witmer will also be on local radio stations talking about cholesterol and other health issues. Check her out on Saturday, Sept. 4 on WSTX with Luz James at 1:30 p.m., on Tuesday, Sept. 7 on WGOD with Henri Pascal at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday Sept. 22 on WSTX with Mario at 10 a.m.
Marie Elise Witmer, RN, BSN, CLC, is a public health nurse for the Chronic Disease Prevention Program at Charles Harwood. The CDPP is a territorial program targeting the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

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