September is National Cholesterol Education Month

Do you know your cholesterol levels?

September is the perfect time of year to get your cholesterol checked out because it is National Cholesterol Education Month. A heart surrounding heart healthy fruit, vegetables, and grains surrounded by a stethoscope on a wood plank floor.

Here are some essential facts worth keeping in mind:

  • Nearly 75 million adults in the United States of America have bad cholesterol.
  • High cholesterol is a significant risk factor associated with heart disease.
  • Heart disease happens to be the leading cause of death in the United States.

We hear the word cholesterol bandied about a lot, and it’s easy to misconstrue its meaning or to make assumptions that may not be entirely correct. As part of our educational efforts within this blog, we will clear up some information.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in the food you eat and your body’s cells. There are two primary sources of cholesterol in the body:

  • Endogenous Cholesterol:This is cholesterol your body produces, primarily in the liver. Your body tightly regulates the production of cholesterol based on its needs, so even if you don’t consume dietary cholesterol, your body will still make it.
  • Exogenous Cholesterol:This is cholesterol that you obtain from the food you eat. Eggs, bacon, fried foods, ice cream—basically all the really good stuff— is high in exogenous cholesterol.

Is all cholesterol bad?

No. In fact, cholesterol is essential in your body and is used to produce hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help digest food. Lipoproteins are particles that carry cholesterol and other fats to and from the cells in your body. The two main types of lipoproteins are:

  • Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL):Often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, LDL cholesterol carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells in the body. When there is an excess of LDL cholesterol in the blood, it can build up on the walls of arteries, forming plaques that can narrow and block blood vessels.
  • High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL):HDL cholesterol is often called “good” cholesterol because it helps remove excess cholesterol from the blood vessels and transport it back to the liver for disposal. Higher HDL cholesterol levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Maintaining a healthy balance between LDL and HDL cholesterol levels is crucial. High LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol levels are risk factors for heart disease.

Now that you know a little bit more—or a lot more—about cholesterol and how it relates to heart disease, we hope you feel motivated to get informed about your cholesterol health. If you are concerned about the health of your heart, turn to ImageCare Radiology for cardiovascular imaging in New Jersey. We employ our technology to identify and diagnose various vascular conditions, as well as to determine treatment and monitor these health conditions. Talk to your healthcare provider about your cholesterol levels today!