Cholesterol is Key - Cholesterol Education Month

Cholesterol is Key

Why We Have Cholesterol Education Month

When we are born, our arteries are clear and healthy. They carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients from our hearts to every part of our bodies. They are the channels of life.

But when our low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol gets too high, it damages and clogs those arteries which results in cardiovascular disease.

You’ve likely heard of LDL as the “bad cholesterol.” That’s because it’s the single biggest cause of the cardiovascular disease atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol Education Month

September is Cholesterol Education Month, so it’s an important time of year to discuss the role of LDL cholesterol in heart disease.

In 2020 alone, approximately 700,000 people died from heart disease in the U.S. It remains the number one killer in America and around much of the world. The easiest way to prevent this is to know your cholesterol numbers and keeping them out of the danger zone.

The Safety Zones
People without heart diseasePeople with existing heart disease
LDL at or below 100 mg/dLLDL at or below 55 mg/dL
Based on the latest numbers from the American College of Cardiology

For many in the U.S., these numbers are achievable through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Our livers produce about 75-80% of the cholesterol in our bodies. They also break down and recycle that cholesterol.

For some people, a genetic mutation keeps the liver from effectively recycling LDL cholesterol.

This genetic condition is familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), and it affects 1 in 250 people.

When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, it penetrates and irritates the walls of the arteries causing inflammation, plaque and blockages. As long as LDL levels remain high, this process continues and leads to heart attacks, strokes, or peripheral artery disease. 

People with FH will not be able to reach these safety zones without the help of medication, and it usually requires a combination of medications.

Achieving Your LDL Goal

Whether you have FH or not, new studies show the longer you have low cholesterol in your bloodstream, the less risk you have for heart disease or surgery.

One study involved the first line of defense in fighting high cholesterol: statins. They have been around since 1987 and have decades of research showing their effectiveness at lowering LDL cholesterol.

Statins have been going through a bit of a smear campaign lately, but this study shows that most people who take this type of medication experience no side effects. More importantly, not only do statins reduce LDL, but they also reduce the risk of heart attacks and other cardiac events including death.

And just last month, a large clinical trial involving PCSK9 inhibitors released results indicating those who got their LDL lower for longer had fewer cardiac events and fewer deaths.

In today’s world of scientific breakthroughs, we are fortunate enough to have the means to prevent or stop the progression of atherosclerosis. So, the lesson for this month’s Cholesterol Education Month? When you and your loved ones reduce your LDL cholesterol with safe and effective therapies, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and increase the peaceful time you have together.

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