Healthy Heart Guide: Article 6 of 7

What’s Your Number? What You Need to Know about Cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 73 million American adults have high cholesterol, but less than one-third of them have the condition under control. The good news is that changes in lifestyle, medications, or a combination of both may help you get your cholesterol back to healthy levels. Your physician can work with you to find the right combination of treatments.

Know Your Cholesterol Levels

The amount of cholesterol in your blood has a lot to do with your chances of getting cardiovascular disease (CVD). High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for CVD. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk of developing CVD or having a heart attack. Learn what your numbers mean.

Cholesterol Screening

Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones and to keep your cells healthy. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your liver and your diet. However, if your diet exceeds the body’s need for cholesterol or saturated fats, your cholesterol level in your blood will increase. Understand treatments and lifestyle changes that are prescribed by your doctor.

It’s Never Too Soon to Take Care of Your Heart

Even if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, you need to pay attention to your cholesterol levels. David Wang was in his forties, a healthy eater, and a regular at the gym. David also had high cholesterol. Unaddressed, this led to serious consequences. During a business trip, David started experiencing sweaty palms, numb fingertips, and shortness of breath – classic heart attack symptoms. With no family history of heart disease, he thought he was having an allergic reaction. But colleagues brought him to an emergency room, where a physician confirmed he was having a heart attack. Working with his doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, along with physical therapists, nurses, and nutritionists, David has gotten his heart health back on track. He has resumed teaching and taking karate lessons and is actively involved with his young children.

Treatment Differences May Increase Heart Disease Risk in Women

Prevention guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommend that moderate- to high-intensity statins should be the first line of therapy for patients at highest risk of heart disease. Yet a recent research study led by physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital finds that differences exist in the treatment patterns and outcomes between men and women presenting with heart disease.

Women in the study were less likely than men to achieve optimal levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, because they were less likely to receive treatment during the study period. The women were also less likely to receive treatment with more potent statins.

Before you go,

Our experts address congenital heart conditions, heart disease and symptoms of heart problems. They advise on steps you can take to keep your heart healthy and strong. Read more articles about breakthroughs in treating heart conditions.