For Your Wellbeing

Cholesterol: Fat Chance

Is the danger of high cholesterol just another scare tactic from the diet police? We hear bad news about cholesterol every day. Then again, we all know a great aunt or cousin who cooks everything in bacon fat, smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, gets by with obesity—and lives forever.

In spite of your great aunt (who is beating the odds), believe it: high cholesterol is an open invitation to heart attack and stroke. By clogging arteries with dietary sludge, fat kills.

Are you ripe for a major heart “event?” The strongest risk factors are sex, genetics, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress, alcohol, and level of physical activity. Find out where you stand. (An overweight male smoker who guzzles beer and blitzes out on TV football every weekend is a good candidate for heart disease. A stressed female with high blood pressure who considers diet pills a meal is likewise at risk.)

High Cholesterol? What you can do

If you recognize risk in your lifestyle—it’s likely you will—get a cholesterol test today. The results will indicate how much cholesterol is swimming around in your bloodstream, and how much “good” fat is present. It’s a start.

With your doctor, look at what you’re putting into your body. Treatment for high-risk people will certainly include diet, weight lossperhaps, exercise, maybe medication.

Remember, 30 percent of us do not survive our first heart attack. Do something, all you can, to take charge. And be quick about it.

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