Checklist: Are You at Risk of High Cholesterol + Heart Health Tips
The unfortunate thing about dangerous high cholesterol is that you may not be aware of the risks until it is too late. High cholesterol creeps up silently causing atherosclerosis (plaque-lined arteries), high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death.
Follow our heart health tips checklist and see whether you need to reduce your cholesterol risk factors.
Is High Cholesterol Dangerous?
If you have one or more of these five risk factors, you are likely to have high LDL cholesterol levels, raised triglyceride levels and unhealthy Lp(a) levels.
1. Are you overweight?
Obesity is a risk factor for raised total cholesterol and is often accompanied by high blood pressure, insulin resistance and increased inflammation, all major risks for heart disease. Use a BMI calculator to see whether you are a normal healthy weight. It compares your weight to your height to produce your body mass index (BMI).
- Normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9
- Overweight is BMI 25-29.9
- Obese is a BMI of 30 or more
2. Do you lack exercise?
The American Heart Association recommends at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, as one of their essential heart health tips. If you need to lower blood pressure or cholesterol you need to increase this to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise (which leaves you out of breath) three to four times a week.
Related: Are Cholesterol Meds a Scam?
3. Do you have high blood sugar or diabetes?
Another medical condition that goes hand-in-hand with high cholesterol is high blood sugar. Glucose levels should be between 70 and 150. Even if you have not been diagnosed as diabetic, it is important to control your blood glucose levels by eating a healthy diet, eating sugar only as an occasional treat, exercising regularly and maintaining a sensible body weight.
4. Is your blood pressure elevated?
High blood pressure is another indicator that your cholesterol levels are higher than is healthy. Normal blood pressure should be 120/80. You can get it checked free at most pharmacies and it takes just a couple of minutes. If your blood pressure reading is above 139 on the upper systolic figure and/or above 90 on the lower diastolic figure you need to consult a doctor.
5. Do you eat too many trans fats?
Trans fats are formed through an industrial process and are used in processed foods, cakes, cookies, baked goods, chips, snacks, margarine and non-dairy creamer. They are the worst types of fat as they raise bad LDL cholesterol and lower good HDL cholesterol. Diets high in trans fats are likely to send your cholesterol sky high, damaging your heart and circulatory system.
If you can answer “yes” to any of these five questions you are likely to have high cholesterol and need to adopt some heart health tips into your life fast. Doctors recommend that everyone should have a cholesterol blood test at least once every five years. Make an appointment soon and, if necessary, work on the above points to bring your cholesterol down to a healthy level – for your heart’s sake.