Know your cholesterol levels
19% of Americans ages 20 to 74 have high cholesterol levels. Are you one of them?
How do I get checked?
Your doctor can conduct a simple, inexpensive test to determine your cholesterol level. When the test results are back your total blood cholesterol will fall into one of these categories:
Desirable — Less than 200 mg/dL
Borderline high risk — 200–239 mg/dL
High risk — 240 mg/dL and over
How often should I be checked?
Young Adults should be checked once every ﬁve years. Men over 45 and women over 55 should measure their cholesterol levels at least once a year.
Keeping tabs on your numbers can go a long way in preventing a number of serious medical complications (heart attacks and strokes included).
Should you be taking an aspirin a day?
Low-dose aspirin has a different cardiovascular benefit for women than it does for men. Aspirin cuts men’s risk of heart attack . For women, the benefit is to reduce the risk of stroke. It has been shown that people who have had a heart attack can benefit from low-dose aspirin. But there’s ongoing debate over who — if anyone — should take aspirin daily to prevent a first heart attack or stroke.
Aspirin as a prevention for a first heart attack or stroke?
Men and women at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease can benefit from aspirin, but each individual needs to discuss this with his or her doctor before deciding to take aspirin. The decision to take daily aspirin is not a simple one because our biology is not simple. Weigh the benefits of taking aspirin against the risks by determining your personal risk of heart attack or stroke. Risk goes up as people accumulate risk factors for heart attack or stroke.
These risk factors include:
- Age. Starting at age 45, stroke/heart attack risk increases each year.
- Family history. A close relative who had a heart attack or stroke at a relatively young age raises your own risk.
- Diabetes. People with high blood sugar levels — whether or not they have full-blown diabetes — are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Smoking. If you’ve ever smoked cigarettes, you have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.