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Wellness Watch - Cholesterol

Nearly 40% of American adults have high cholesterol. High cholesterol can even affect children.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.

High cholesterol levels put you at greater risk of heart disease and stroke, so it’s important to know your levels, your risk factors and what to do to maintain healthy numbers. Phoebe Cardiologist Dr. Karuppiah Arunachalam explains what you need to know about cholesterol and how to maintain healthy levels.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years, as long as their risk remains low. People with cardiovascular disease and those at elevated risk may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often. A cholesterol test requires a simple blood draw. It checks your levels of:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol
  • Triglycerides
  • Total cholesterol

If you do not have a primary care physician, you can go to to find one who can make sure you get your cholesterol checked and undergo other health screenings when needed.

The AHA offers a quick online assessment to help you learn your risk for heart disease or stroke. Find it here:

Cholesterol Myths & Facts from the CDC

Myth: All cholesterol is bad for you.
Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health.

Myth: I would be able to feel it if I had high cholesterol.
Fact: There are usually no warning signs for high cholesterol.

Myth: Eating foods with a lot of cholesterol will not make my cholesterol levels go up.
Fact: Foods with a lot of cholesterol usually also have a lot of saturated fat which can make your cholesterol numbers higher.

Myth: I can’t do anything to change my cholesterol levels.
Fact: Making healthy food choices, staying active, refraining from tobacco use, knowing your family history and seeing a primary care provider regularly can help you maintain healthy levels.

Myth: I can manage my cholesterol with diet and exercise.
Fact: While many people do achieve good cholesterol levels by eating healthy and exercising, others need medication.

The CDC and AHA have much more helpful information about cholesterol at their websites.