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What women need to know about Cholesterol

- 19 February 2008, 03:02

According to The American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease causes the death of more than 500,000 women every year.  It is reported that high cholesterol levels pose a big risk to women’s health in the form of heart disease and stroke.  Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the human body.  Another important statistic drawn from The American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke statistics 2006 Update, shows that more than 51 million American women have very high cholesterol levels.

Studies have shown that women have higher HDL cholesterol levels before menopause as a result of the presence of estrogen, the female sex hormone.  Estrogen raises the HDL cholesterol levels, and HDL is considered the ‘good’ cholesterol.  On the other hand, women are at greater risk after menopause when their LDL cholesterol levels increase. LDL is considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol that can lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Diabetes and smoking have been identified as two risk factors related to heart disease in women, so women need to take measures to have regular cholesterol testing to better evaluate their risk. The connection between smoking and heart disease would also indicate that giving up that habit will help your risk level drop.

If your LDL [‘bad’ cholesterol] levels are found to be dangerously high, your physician may prescribe cholesterol lowering medication until your levels are safe.  Even after the medication has balanced your cholesterol levels, your doctor may request that you continue taking the medication as a precautionary health measure.  You should always be open to following your doctor’s advice concerning medication if you hope to improve your health.

Because high cholesterol is common among so many numbers of women both pre and post menopause, it is important at every stage to learn as much about controlling cholesterol as possible.

Dr. Kristin Newby, associate director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Duke University Medical Center teaches her patients that the human body manufactures cholesterol in the liver, and it also builds up in the body from the amount of fats eaten.  Dr. Newby also noted that cholesterol levels definitely increase as we age, and so women need to be careful about making sure they have regular testing.


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