Control Cholesterol with Life's Simple 7

Updated:Jul 26,2013

98.9 million Americans age 20 and older have a blood cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher.

What can we do to control cholesterol?

  1. Understand Cholesterol Levels - The first step to controlling cholesterol is to understand where it comes from, what the levels mean and what the recommended level is for each kind to lower the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. heart.org/CholesterolLevels

    Cholesterol comes from two sources; our bodies and our food. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.
     
    Desired level to protect against heart disease  
    60 mg/dL and > HDL CHOLESTEROL = GOOD
    High-density lipoprotein is known as "good" cholesterol.
    < 100 mg/dL LDL CHOLESTEROL = BAD
    Low-density lipoprotein is known as "bad" cholesterol.
    HDL helps keep the LDL from sticking to your artery walls. This can aid in lowering the risk of developing athersclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. heart.org/Athersclerosis
    < 100 mg/dL TRIGLYCERIDES
    This is a form of fat made in the body.
    < 200 mg/dL TOTAL CHOLESTEROL
    HDL + LDL + Triglycerides = total cholesterol level.
    The most important thing you can do to control your cholesterol level is to learn your levels by getting your cholesterol tested. heart.org/CholesterolTest

     
  2. Learn and Monitor Your Levels - To find out if you have high blood cholesterol, you should have a complete fasting lipoprotein profile performed by a healthcare professional.

    You can track your cholesterol and your efforts to control it online with Heart360. You can get text reminders and upload readings from your cell phone. Heart360.org
     
  3. Tips For Success - Setting realistic goals and making slow changes over time are the best ways to set yourself up for success, feel your best and live a healthy lifestyle.
    • Eat Better. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich whole grains, lean meats and poultry, fish at least twice a week and fat-free or 1 percent dairy products — and low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol,
      sodium and added sugars — is a delicious way to help your cholesterol levels.
      heart.org/Nutrition
    • Get Active. Enjoying at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity more days than not for a total of at least 150 minutes per week is key to controlling your cholesterol.
      heart.org/PhysicalActivity
    • Know Your FatsKnowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don't is a big step in lowering your risk of heart disease. Replacing saturated fat and trans fat with monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat might help lower LDL cholesterol when eaten as part of a healthy diet.
      heart.org/KnowYourFats
      heart.org/CookingForLowerCholesterol
    • Take medication as directed. Following your healthcare provider's advice is the best way to reach your treatment goals and enjoy the benefits of better health.
      heart.org/CholesterolMedication
    • Quit Smoking. If you smoke, your cholesterol level is one more good reason to quit. And everyone should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
      heart.org/QuitSmoking
Learn more at heart.org/MyLifeCheck and heart.org/Cholesterol.

View the  Control Cholesterol with Life's Simple 7 Infographic.

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