February is National Heart Month, so each Friday in February we will be posting an article about steps a person can take to reduce their risk of heart disease. Our featured blogger is Kristy Krause, a nurse with Agnesian HealthCare. Kristy is also our Cardiac Educator.
Have you had your cholesterol levels checked lately? And if so, what are you doing about them? The latest recommendations is for everyone to start having their cholesterol levels checked at age 20, earlier if you have a strong family history of heart disease and continue to have them routinely checked after that. Knowing your heart numbers, and then acting on them, is essential for living heart healthy. Take note of all of your numbers next time you are at the doctor’s office; your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol.
Having high cholesterol levels doesn’t come with symptoms, until it is too late and you find out you have heart disease. Even if you are thin, you can still have high cholesterol; there are more to the numbers than just your weight. An unhealthy diet, especially one high in saturated fat, can clog up your arteries causing heart disease, even if you are able to maintain a desirable weight. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature, butter and lard for example, and are mainly found in animal sources. When sautéing, throw a little olive oil in the pan instead of butter for a heart healthy twist. Remember that your body does need cholesterol to function, but it makes all the cholesterol that it needs, so any extra that you eat is a little ‘bonus’ which can end up clogging your arteries, head to toe.