6 Reasons to Be More Concerned About Cholesterol

  • Senior-African-couple-in-front-of-house
    Know Your Risk Factors
    Everyone should be concerned about cholesterol. But some people need to pay closer attention to it than others. If you have any of the following risk factors, you may be at greater risk for cholesterol problems. Find out what you can do about them.

  • Smoking-cigarette
    Risk Factor #1: Smoking
    Smoking exposes you to harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. This can damage your blood vessels, triggering the buildup of plaque. Smoking can also make it more difficult for you to exercise. Exercise naturally lowers cholesterol levels. There are plenty of resources to help you quit.

  • Woman-pinching-fat-from-her-abdomen
    Risk Factor #2: Obesity
    Obesity is linked to an increase in cholesterol levels. It also contributes to other health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Together, these conditions dramatically increase your risk for heart disease. Losing even just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help.

  • Doctor-talks-to-a-sitting-patient
    Risk Factor #3: Age
    There’s not much we can do about our age. But it’s important to know that cholesterol levels tend to increase as we get older. This is especially true for men ages 45 and older, and women ages 55 and older. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, like regular exercise, can help keep cholesterol under control.

  • Senior-couple-at-home
    Risk Factor #4: Family History of Heart Disease
    If heart disease runs in your family, you have a greater chance of developing it, too. And since high cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease, it’s especially important that you focus on good cholesterol health. Ask your doctor how often you should get your cholesterol levels checked. 

  • Young-man-giving-himself-an-insulin-shot
    Risk Factor #5: Diabetes
    People with diabetes are more prone to high cholesterol. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about steps to lower your LDL cholesterol. Doing so can reduce your cardiovascular complications by up to 50 percent.

  • Doctor-checking-blood-pressure
    Risk Factor #6: High Blood Pressure
    Just like high cholesterol, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. When you have both conditions at the same time, it can greatly increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure often causes no symptoms. Find out if yours is high by getting checked regularly.

  • Senior-Couple-Walking-Along-Beach-Together
    Take Control
    If you have any of these risk factors, ask your health care provider to check your cholesterol levels. The more risk factors you have, the greater control over your cholesterol you’ll need to achieve. Your health care provider can help you develop a plan.

6 Top Risk Factors for High Cholesterol

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  2. High Blood Pressure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 2013. (http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/);
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  5. Cholesterol Abnormalities & Diabetes. American Heart Association. June 2012. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Diabetes/WhyDiabetesMatters/Cholesterol-Abnormalities-Diabe...; Diabetes and Cholesterol. University of Illinois. June 2010. (http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/diabetes/diabetes_cholesterol.htm);
  6. How Does Smoking Affect the Heart and Blood Vessels? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. December 2011. (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/smo/); High Cholesterol -- Why Lower Your LDL? National Institute on Aging. May 2011. (http://www.nihseniorhealth.gov/highbloodcholesterol/whyloweryourldl/01.html);
  7. Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of health. Summer 2012. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/summer12/articles/summer12pg6-7.html);
  8. Controllable Risk Factors. National Stroke Association. Accessed July 8, 2013. (http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=cholesterol);
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Last Review Date: 2019 Sep 3
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