YOUR GUIDE TO. Managing and Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels

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1 YOUR GUIDE TO Managing and Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels

2 Our goal at the Mercy Health Heart Institute is to help you be well. Our experienced team includes cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, electrophysiologists, registered nurses, physical therapists and registered dietitians. And all of us have one goal: making sure your heart is healthy. One very important role you can play in your heart health is understanding your cholesterol levels and doing everything you can to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL? Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found naturally in all of the cells of your body. The body needs cholesterol to function normally. But, too much cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease. WHERE DOES CHOLESTEROL COME FROM? Most cholesterol comes from two sources: the food you eat and your family medical history. Some people may carefully watch what they eat and exercise regularly, but still have high cholesterol due to it running in the family. WHAT ARE LDLS AND HDLS? Our team will measure certain types of fats found in your blood. These fats are called: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as bad cholesterol because it can build up in the walls of your arteries and form plaque. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as good cholesterol because it carries LDLs (bad cholesterol) away from artery walls. Triglycerides, which are used as a source of energy in your body. High levels of triglycerides are unhealthy. We will measure your total cholesterol level, which measures all of the cholesterol in your blood. HOW ARE LDLS HARMFUL? A high level of LDL (bad) cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. This is because LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries, creating plaque. This plaque can narrow your arteries, making them less flexible and reducing blood flow. This can cause artery damage, stroke and heart disease.

3 WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE? Risk factors for heart disease fall into two categories. Some risk factors you can change, but others you can t. Risk factors you can change: HOW CAN I ACHIEVE MY CHOLESTEROL GOALS? At the Mercy Health Heart Institute, we will work with you to determine your cholesterol goal. The goal will be based on any risk factors you have for heart disease, as well as your current and past medical history. We will monitor your cholesterol level to help you reach your goal. You can use the following information to help compare your cholesterol levels with recommended cholesterol goals. WHAT IS A GOOD LEVEL FOR LDL (BAD) CHOLESTEROL? Stress High LDL cholesterol High blood pressure An LDL cholesterol level of less than 130 mg/dl is recommended if you have two or more risk factors for heart disease. An LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dl is recommended if you have diabetes or heart disease. We will work with you to determine your cholesterol goal. WHAT IS A GOOD LEVEL FOR HDL (GOOD) CHOLESTEROL? Being overweight Diabetes Risk factors you can t change: Smoking Not being active When it comes to HDL cholesterol, a higher level is better because HDL helps to move LDL (bad) cholesterol away from your arteries. An HDL cholesterol level of 60 mg/dl or more is considered high and is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. An HDL cholesterol level of less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. WHAT IS A GOOD TOTAL CHOLESTEROL LEVEL? A total cholesterol level (both LDL and HDL together) of less than 200 mg/dl is considered desirable. WHAT IS A GOOD TRIGLYCERIDE LEVEL? Gender Family medical history Growing older A triglyceride level of less than 150 mg/dl is considered normal. WORKING TOGETHER TO MANAGE YOUR HIGH CHOLESTEROL If your blood test shows that you have high cholesterol, we will work with you to develop a plan to manage it. The plan may include lifestyle changes and using medicine to reduce high cholesterol.

4 WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY HIGH CHOLESTEROL? Stop smoking Smoking damages your lungs, heart and arteries. Maintain a healthy body weight Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the two most important factors in maintaining a healthy weight. Change your behavior Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains more often. Eat sugars, fatty foods and fried foods less often. Modify your diet A healthy diet for you may include lowering your total cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams per day and eating grams of fiber per day. It may also include keeping your total fat intake each day to between 25 percent and 35 percent of total calories. Get some exercise most days of the week This means 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days and resistance training three times a week. Be sure to talk to your health care team before you start an exercise program. Get regular checkups Regular checkups can help you manage your cholesterol and prevent future health problems. At each visit, the Mercy Health Heart Institute team will check your blood pressure and weight and discuss your cholesterol management plan. We will also check your cholesterol levels at least once a year. Take medicine for high cholesterol Your physician may prescribe medication to help you achieve your cholesterol goals, along with lifestyle changes. Be sure to let your health care team know about any prescription and over-the-counter medicine you are taking or plan to take. Some medicines may affect how your cholesterol medicines work. If you are prescribed medicine, follow these tips for taking it: Take any medication at the same time each day. Don t stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor. Know what condition the medicine is used to treat and how and when you should take it.

5 KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION You can use these charts to help you keep track of your medicines and your cholesterol goals. MEDICINE CHART Medicine name Reason for Dose/Time Times medicine is taking medicine taken each day LDL CHOLESTEROL GOAL CHART Visit date Your level now Your level goal QUESTIONS TO ASK THE MERCY HEALTH HEART INSTITUTE TEAM These questions may help you have a discussion with your physician as you work to reach your cholesterol goals. QUESTIONS TO ASK NOTES What is my LDL (bad) cholesterol level? What should my LDL cholesterol level be? What is my HDL cholesterol? When should I have my cholesterol checked again? Will I need to take medicine to lower my LDL cholesterol? If I am already on cholesterol medicine and my LDL level isn t where it should be, what else can I do? 4600 McAuley Place Cincinnati, Ohio /2012 1,000 MD DG

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