Cholesterol levels should be checked every 5 years

By Sheri Falk - bio | email | Twitter

Hattiesburg, MS (WDAM) -

Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes go hand in hand with high cholesterol. Even healthy people have it and don't even know.

Hattiesburg Clinic General Physician Matt McClain says,  "Some people feel like if they're body weight is normal, they exercise and they feel good there is no need to be tested."  McClain says, that  about 75% of cholesterol is from internal production of the liver and other organs.

The body doesn't show signs of high cholesterol , it also doesn't discriminate against young people. That's why  it's so important to have a blood test done every five years.

"A lot of times people will have high cholesterol and it will be discovered after an event occurs like a heart attack or stroke. It's important to catch it early if possible."

Like McClain, who discovered his levels were slightly elevated. He changed his eating habits and began exercising regularly.

"Unfortunately,  that wasn't enough and my numbers did not come down enough so I started taking medicine.  Now my numbers are much better."

HDL, known as the good cholesterol,  should be above 40 in men and above 50 in women.

LDL,  the bad cholesterol McClain says, varies depending on the person.

People of average risk should have a level below 130 and those at a higher risk should have a level less than 100.

"If someone's numbers are elevated there is always a good chance the numbers may come down by eating lower fat, eating higher fiber and exercising.

But remember,  genetics also play a major role.

"People do have a fear of taking medicine but the number one killer of men and women is heart disease and one of the big contributing factors is high cholesterol.  So, the medicines may have some risk but we have to balance that against the risk that's typically greater."

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