By Justin Ceravolo, PharmD
When was the last time you had your cholesterol levels checked? If the answer isn’t recently, you’re probably overdue. September is National Cholesterol Education Month, making now the perfect time to have your cholesterol tested and to learn what your cholesterol levels mean.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 102 million American adults, from the ages of 20 years or older, have a total cholesterol level above the healthy standard of 200mg/dL. Of these, more than 35 million have extremely concerning levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, putting them at risk for heart disease.
What is cholesterol and why is it such an important indicator?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the body, and is also found in many foods that we typically eat. Naturally, our body produces cholesterol for cell regeneration and to overall function properly. The problem arises when too much cholesterol builds up in our system. Over time, cholesterol can form thick deposits that narrow the arteries, resulting in an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Who should have their cholesterol checked, and how often?
For adults aged 20 years and older, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends cholesterol checks every five years. Anyone overweight and/or over the age of 45 should discuss with their physician their recommended frequency for testing. Young adults with risk factors for coronary heart disease, including obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history, experts agree they should also be tested and monitored for high cholesterol levels.
Can high cholesterol be improved?
Yes. While a doctor may prescribe medications to treat high cholesterol, lifestyle changes are also recommended to help lower cholesterol levels. These lifestyle changes include:
• Eating lower-fat and higher-fiber foods (fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains)
• Incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise 4 to 6 times a week
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Not smoking or being around secondhand smoke
Where can I get my cholesterol checked?
Cypress Pharmacy offers convenient, in-store cholesterol and glucose screenings. Thanks to the PTS Diagnostics’ CardioCheck Plus analyzer, pharmacists use the same technology available in clinical laboratories, and provide patients with accurate onsite results in 90 seconds. With this streamlined process, pharmacists will use the device to prick one finger to gather a single drop of blood for both tests, a service available for just $40. To properly prepare for the glucose and cholesterol tests, patients are required to fast 9-12 hours prior to a screening. For the most accurate readings, some patients may need to return the following day to complete the screening.
For assistance with all your cholesterol and glucose testing needs, visit Cypress Pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy providing pharmaceutical and healthcare services in Fort Myers for more than 40 years. The entire staff, including pharmacists T.J. DePaola and Justin Ceravolo, are dedicated to providing the best possible service to every customer. For more information, call 239-481-7322 or visit www.cypresspharmacy.com.