State Health Department Encourages Testing for High Cholesterol, Which Can Lead to the Number One Cause of Death

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                      The Illinois Department of Public

                      Health (IDPH) is encouraging people to get their

                      blood cholesterol checked during September, National

                      Cholesterol Education Month, and take steps to lower

                      it if it is high.  High blood cholesterol is one of

                      the major risk factors for heart disease, which is

                      the number one killer of men and women in the United

                      States.  Each year, more than a million Americans

                      have heart attacks, and about a half million people

                      die from heart disease according to the National

                      Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

                      “Cholesterol builds up slowly, over time, and many

                      people may not be aware their total cholesterol level

                      is rising, putting them at risk for heart disease,”

                      said Illinois Department of Public Health Director

                      Dr. Damon T. Arnold.  “I always tell people to get

                      their cholesterol levels checked at least every five

                      years and to make sure their LDLs – “L” for lousy –

                      are low, and HDLs – “H” for healthy - are up.  Don’t

                      wait, get your cholesterol checked during National

                      Cholesterol Education Month.”

                      According to studies by the National Heart, Lung, and

                      Blood Institute, for every one percent a person

                      lowers their total blood cholesterol, they can reduce

                      their risk of a heart attack by two percent.

                      Lowering cholesterol:

                      • Physical Activity - 30 minutes of activity most if

                      not all days of the week is recommended.  Activity

                      can include walking, riding a bicycle, yard work or

                      golfing.

                      • Lose Weight – People who are overweight can have

                      high total cholesterol levels and low levels of

                      protective HDL cholesterol.  Limiting your caloric

                      intake and losing excess weight contributes greatly

                      to reducing blood cholesterol.

                      • Eat Smart – Avoid fatty foods, particularly those

                      with saturated fats.  No more than 30 percent of

                      total daily calories should come from fat.  Eat

                      fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as whole

                      wheat bread.

                      For some people, high cholesterol levels may continue

                      despite losing weight, eating healthy and exercising.

                      These people should check with a health care provider

                      who may recommend using medication.

                      This September, ask your health care provider about a

                      simple blood test to check your cholesterol.

                      The Illinois Department of Public Health has two

                      programs designed to lower heart disease and

                      cholesterol.

                      1.      The WISEWOMAN (Well -Integrated Screening and

                      Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) program is

                      funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and

                      Prevention (CDC) and aims to lower heart disease and

                      other chronic disease risk factors through screening

                      and lifestyle classes. The four weekly lifestyle

                      classes teach women how to eat healthy, increase

                      physical activity, problem solve, set goals, and also

                      teaches them about the importance of a support

                      system.  For more information, call the Women’s

                      Health-Line: Toll-free: 888-522-1282, TTY:

                      800-547-0466.

                      2.      The Illinois Heart Disease and Stroke

                      Prevention Program is also a national program funded

                      by the CDC with the following priorities:

                      ­ Increase control of high blood pressure

                      ­ Increase control of high cholesterol

                      ­ Increase knowledge of signs and symptoms of heart

                      attack and stroke and the importance of calling 911

                      ­ Improve emergency response

                      ­ Improve quality of heart disease and stroke care

                      ­ Eliminate disparities in terms of race, ethnicity,

                      gender, geography, or socioeconomic status

                      For more information, call 217-782-3300, TTY:

                      800-547-0466 or log onto

                      www.idph.state.il.us/heartstroke.