There are several benefits of having cholesterol screening performed, including reducing the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Many people have high cholesterol and do not know it. As a result, they are at a heightened risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that is found in the bloodstream. It helps digest fatty foods and aids in the production of hormones. However, if you have too much, it can accumulate over time and make it very difficult for blood to move through your blood vessels.
Who Needs Cholesterol Screening?
If you are a man 35 years or older, or you are 20-35 years of age and either have heart disease or you have exhibited risk factors for heart disease, you should strongly consider having a cholesterol screening. Women who are 20 or older and have heart disease or have shown risk factors should also have a screening performed, as should all women who are age 45 or older. Heart disease risk factors include a family history of the disease, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes and others.
In general, experts recommend that you have your cholesterol checked once every five years. Some people need to have it checked more often, while others can go longer before needing to be checked. Your doctor will let you know how often you should come in for a test.
What if the Results are Bad?
If your levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) are high, a screening will provide the warning you need to take action to reduce it. LDL cholesterol clogs your arteries, while HDL, or “good” cholesterol, removes LDL and helps reduce your chances for developing heart disease.
There is no need to fear this test, and there will be no need to panic if your LDL levels are high. By exercising, eating foods that are good for your heart and quitting smoking, you can substantially lower your LDL levels. There are also several effective medications that can also reduce LDL cholesterol.