High cholesterol poses a serious health risk, yet more than 93 million adults in the United States — that’s slightly more than half — have potentially dangerous levels of total cholesterol. The higher your cholesterol, the higher the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
At Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants, cardiovascular physician Ayim Djamson, MD, is here to help you keep your heart and circulatory system as healthy as possible. One way to protect your heart health is to lower your levels of so-called “bad cholesterol” and keep your overall cholesterol numbers within a healthy range.
Take a few moments to learn more about what you can do right now to improve your cholesterol profile.
Work with a health care provider
Working closely with a heart health specialist is the best step you can take toward lowering your cholesterol. Dr. Djamson can help you stay on top of your heart health with regular checkups and top-quality care to keep your heart and blood vessels strong.
Dr. Djamson can check your cholesterol levels and discuss what they mean for you, as well as create an individualized treatment plan to improve your cholesterol and protect your heart.
Adopt a heart-healthy diet
The food you eat has a major impact on the level of cholesterol in your blood. Saturated fat is a dietary component strongly linked to low-density lipoprotein — a harmful form of cholesterol. Cutting back on saturated fat is a big first step in adopting a heart-healthy diet.
The main sources of saturated fat in the typical diet are full-fat dairy, processed foods, and fatty cuts of meat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to no more than 13 grams per day. Start by choosing lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy foods, and unprocessed whole grains.
In addition to cutting back on saturated fats, it's helpful to increase your intake of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, and vegetables. These foods contain soluble fiber, which reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Heart-healthy omega-3 fats found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring promote healthy blood pressure and help to combat high cholesterol.
Exercise is another lifestyle factor within your control that can have a beneficial effect on your cholesterol levels. That's because moderate physical activity helps to boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a good form of cholesterol. Getting your body moving also combats bad cholesterol.
This doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the gym. Adding some movement to your day can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the entrance in the parking lot, and taking short walk breaks during the day.
Consistency is key. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This equates to roughly 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
You're more likely to have high cholesterol if you're overweight. If you're carrying excess weight, you aren't alone; more than 70% of American adults are overweight or obese. Excess weight increases your risk of a number of health issues, including stroke and heart attack, but also diabetes, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol.
Excess body fat causes negative changes to your cholesterol profile. In overweight and obese adults, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are often elevated, while HDL, the good form of cholesterol, is typically low.
The good news is that the same steps that help your overall cholesterol numbers, such as adapting a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, also promote weight loss and weight management.
It’s never too early or too late to start thinking about your heart health, and making some practical changes to keep your heart healthy and strong.
For cholesterol management, and to schedule a heart health checkup, contact the office nearest you: in Beltsville, Bowie, and Columbia. Your heart health is in your hands.