New survey outlines what people know and don’t know about cholesterol

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Cholesterol can make or break your health. A new survey from the American Heart Association (AHA) shows that most people know this. However, it also reveals that many people aren’t sure how to manage their cholesterol. For example:

  • Some of the participants had a history of cardiovascular disease or stroke. Of these people, almost half hadn’t had their cholesterol checked within the last year.
  • Almost 90 percent of people with high cholesterol knew management was important. However, about 40 percent didn’t feel great about their ability to control their cholesterol.
  • People with high cholesterol said they had the least information about three key areas. These were target body weight, the different types of cholesterol and goals for cholesterol management.

Taking charge of your cholesterol

Here’s a look at the areas where many people could use more info.

Target weight. The body mass index (BMI) scale is a screening tool. It’s the ratio of your weight divided by the square of your height. Ideally, BMI should be between 18.5 and 25. Higher numbers fall into the overweight or obese ranges. Find out yours with our BMI calculator.

Different kinds of cholesterol. Your total cholesterol = HDL + LDL + 20 percent of your triglycerides.

  • LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. It contributes to plaque that can clog arteries.
  • HDL is the “good” cholesterol. It acts like a scavenger, removing LDL from arteries.
  • Triglycerides are another kind of fat. They’re used to store excess energy.

Learn what the different types of cholesterol mean for your health.

Goals for managing cholesterol. Treatment includes lifestyle changes and medication. A healthy diet, weight management and physical activity can affect your cholesterol levels. Medications can help, too, including statins. Your doctor will work with you to determine a plan of action and healthy goals. And when you have questions, or if something isn’t clear, don’t be afraid to ask.

You can never have too much information about your health. Know your risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease. And learn more with Cholesterol 101.

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