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Healthy Heart class promotes understanding of cholesterol


Cholesterol Awareness Month is recognized every September to promote understanding and awareness about cholesterol and how it affects heart health. The 11th Medical Group disease management team offers a monthly Healthy Heart Class to provide in-depth information about cholesterol management. The class is held on the second Wednesday of each month, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., in the Global Reach conference room, of the old clinic building 1050, basement level. The class is open to everyone.


Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in fats that circulate in your bloodstream. It helps the body to function normally. It is produced naturally in the body but also comes from food. When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up on your artery walls and forms plaque. Plaque can lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. As people age or develop certain medical conditions, it’s important to monitor cholesterol levels more often.


There are three types of cholesterol you need to understand and be concerned about.


Low-density lipoprotein is known as “bad” cholesterol because this is what forms plaque on your arteries. An optimal LDL level is under 100 micrograms/deciliter. Over 160 mg/dL is considered high.


High-density lipoprotein is known as “good” cholesterol because it carries LDL away from artery walls. An optimal HDL level is over 60 mg/dL. Less than 40 mg/dL puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular problems.


Triglycerides are another type of fat. High levels are unhealthy. Under 150 mg/dL is normal.


Total Cholesterol is the measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood. A desirable level is less than 200 mg/dL.


“To lower your cholesterol level, eat a diet low in saturated and trans fats (usually found in milk, eggs, fatty meat, cheese) and eat 20-30 grams of fiber per day. Engage in moderate exercise (brisk walk, dancing) for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise cholesterol levels. Avoid smoking, which lowers HDL,” said Lt Col (Dr.) Eric Abbott, 11th Medical Operations Squadron, Family Physician.


During Cholesterol Education Month, patients are encouraged to have a blood test to check their cholesterol. Your healthcare provider can order a blood test to determine your cholesterol numbers. You will need to fast for 12 hours (water is allowed) prior to the test to get the most accurate results.


Contact Maj. Joanne Kmetz, Disease Manager, at (240) 612-2396 for more information about cholesterol or to sign up for the Healthy Heart class. You may also use secure messaging to speak with your healthcare team directly about cholesterol and how often to have it checked.  Simply stop by your primary care clinic to sign up for secure messaging on the TRICARE Online Patient Portal.

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