(NC)-High cholesterol is a common medical condition, affecting approximately eight million Canadians. Since high cholesterol cannot be felt, many people do not fully understand the effect it can have on their arteries and heart. High cholesterol is a contributing factor to the development of heart disease.
1. If any of these apply to you, talk to your doctor about having your cholesterol tested:
You are a woman over the age of 50.
You are a man over the age of 40.
You have heart disease (angina, heart attack, coronary bypass, stroke, angioplasty).
You have diabetes.
You have a family history of heart disease or cholesterol (mother, father, sister, brother, or grandparent).
2. If you have two or more of the following:
You are overweight.
You are physically inactive.
You are a smoker.
You have high blood pressure.
If you checked off one from the first list and two or more in the second list, you should ask your physician to have your cholesterol tested. Realistically, people may have more than just one risk factor. For example, someone who is physically inactive may also have high cholesterol in addition to high blood pressure. The combination of two or more risk factors multiples the chances of developing heart disease, the number one killer of Canadians.
High cholesterol is one of the major modifiable risk factors of heart disease. It is possible to reduce cholesterol to a safe level with lifestyle changes and sometimes medication. Most importantly, for those who have diabetes or heart disease, lowering your cholesterol to target levels is crucial because of the increased risk for a cardiovascular event like a heart attack.