5 Answers to Common Cholesterol Questions
Over 50? You’re in good company… right now, roughly one-third of the US population is over 50 years old. While your 20s may feel like yesterday, it’s time to start addressing how factors like diet and exercise affect your body as you age. Talking about high cholesterol levels is one component of a healthy aging plan and, to make things a little easier, we’ve got answers to common cholesterol questions to give you a leg up in your 50s and beyond.
5 Common Cholesterol Questions
You’ve got a lot of health concerns to keep track of, but it’s important that cholesterol is one of them. These cholesterol basics offer a high-level understanding of what you need to know.
1. What is cholesterol?
A waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Our bodies need cholesterol to complete normal functions like forming cell membranes, vitamin D, and certain hormones. Our bodies produce the amount of cholesterol we need, so excess cholesterol can build up in arteries, making them more narrow than normal. This increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
2. Which cholesterol type is good vs. bad?
HDL (high density lipoprotein) is considered “good” because it transports cholesterol to the liver to be expelled. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is considered “bad” because it can collect in arteries.
3. How do you know if your cholesterol levels are high?
There are typically no symptoms of high cholesterol. However, a simple blood test can gauge your levels.
4. How much cholesterol is too much?
Doctors recommend that your cholesterol level remains below 200 mg/dL. If it ranges from 200-239 mg/dL, it is considered borderline high, while over 240 mg/dL is considered high.
5. How are high cholesterol levels treated?
Lifestyle changes such as diet and activity level are usually enough to control high cholesterol. In some cases, medication may be prescribed by your doctor. Some things you can do to lower your cholesterol include:
- Eating a diet high in fiber and low in fat (fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains)
- Getting at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week
- Maintaining a healthy weight (established by your doctor)
- Quitting or not smoking
Whether your doctor has prescribed medication for high cholesterol or you’re preparing with a little research, keep these answers to common cholesterol questions in mind as you age. And remember, always consult your doctor before starting a new medication or making any lifestyle changes.
Wondering where your cholesterol levels are now? We’ve got a blood test for that!