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All across America, frazzled mothers are breathing a sigh of relief and secret gratitude as the long hot summer break finally draws to a close while September school bells ring in the new term. Time to kick off those summer running shoes, collapse into the nearest chair for two and a half minutes of well-deserved rest before jumping into the marathon that just naturally accompanies the school year.
As the children head off to school, it’s time for parents to head to school as well -- cholesterol school. September is National Cholesterol Education Month and what better time than now to give yourself a new start on managing your cholesterol levels with a quick cholesterol primer?
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that is found in blood cells throughout the body. Some cholesterol is quite normal. In fact, your body manufactures the amount of cholesterol that it needs. Most of us are familiar with low-density lipoprotein, sometimes referred to as LDL or "bad" cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein, known as HDL or "good" cholesterol. Too much LDL, or too little HDL cholestero,l can put you at increased risk of heart disease.
Know Your Numbers
If you don’t know your blood cholesterol levels, make a pledge to get tested in September. Cholesterol is measured by a ratio of blood cholesterol in milligrams (mg) to deciliter (DL) of blood. Your doctor will most likely look at scores for total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Generally the following scores are considered acceptable:
• Total cholesterol combined: below 200 mg/DL
• LDL levels: between 100 -129 mg/DL
• HDL levels: above 60 mg/DL
• Triglycerides: below 150 mg/DL
These scores are generally accepted as normal for those with no risk of heart disease. Acceptable levels may vary depending on your individual risk levels for heart disease. Always consult your physician and about what scores are right for you.
Know Your Risk Factors
It’s important to know whether or not you are at risk for heart disease. Your individual risk level for heart disease changes how much blood cholesterol levels you can safely carry.