Knox County Hospital District
KNOX CITY – More Americans die of heart disease than any other health concern. High cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Add the Covid-19 virus to this already dismal statistic and maintaining heart health, especially making sure the cholesterol level stays low, is even more crucial.
The Covid-19 virus heightens the possibility of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). With the virulence of the Covid 19 Delta variant which is much more transmissible and deadly, it becomes much more important to monitor cholesterol levels than ever before.
The CDC estimates that 95 million Americans have high cholesterol. September is National Cholesterol Education Month and Knox County Hospital District urges everyone to learn more about how to manage cholesterol and to plan for ongoing cholesterol monitoring with our primary care staff. “Paying careful and regular attention to your health is always important, but now with Covid it is critical,” said Dr. Leon Joplin, physician at Munday Clinic. “Once you know your cholesterol levels you can begin to put a healthy eating and lifestyle regimen in place to lower the bad cholesterol and keep it low.”
So, what is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body produces and helps your cardiovascular system to function. There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), called “good” and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), referred to as “bad.” However, too much LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries, forming plaque and raising the risk of serious cardiovascular issues, including heart attack and stroke. Now you know why it’s referred to as “bad!”
Although certain prescription medications ordered by a medical provider can help individuals with especially high cholesterol, lifestyle changes are usually the first recommendation.
Eating foods that are high in saturated fats can contribute to high cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Foods such as red meat, cheese and other dairy products can contain high levels of fats that can affect cholesterol.
Choosing foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, beans, and foods that contain healthy fats such as avocados and nuts, fresh fruits and leafy greens can help manage cholesterol levels.
Physical activity can help you manage your cholesterol level and control your weight. The CDC recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Exercise can take the form of cycling, running, or brisk walking.
Excess weight can increase levels of LDL cholesterol. The excess weight can affect how your body regulates cholesterol.
Studies have long shown a link between smoking and cholesterol levels. Smoking can also damage your arteries, increasing the risk of a buildup of plaque. It can also contribute to high blood pressure.
Knox County Hospital District medical staff recommend that adults, starting at ages 20 and older have their cholesterol levels checked every five years. The frequency of the cholesterol checks may increase depending on the findings.
Cholesterol checks are a simple blood test often ordered during a yearly wellness exam. A wellness exam is covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans once a year. These check-ups are an opportunity to assess your overall health and find out if you are due for certain health screenings.
If you or a loved one is concerned about cholesterol and cardiovascular conditions, please call Knox City Clinic at 940-657-3906 or the Munday Clinic at 940-422-5271. For more information about local healthcare programs and services in Knox County, please visit www.knoxhospital.org.