Student Health Center

Healthy You @ RSUSeptember 2008

September is Cholesterol Awareness Month

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body produces and is necessary for many body functions. However, when there is too much cholesterol in the bloodstream, some will build up on the walls of the blood vessels, including those of the heart.

Over time, this build-up can impede the flow of blood. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD).

As the leading cause of death in the United States, CHD has the potential for touching many, many Americans.

One of every two males and one of every three females aged 40 years and over will develop CHD sometime in their lives.

The good news is that people CAN prevent heart disease by controlling those risk factors that can be modified. By lowering risk factors – through exercise, reducing saturated fats and cholesterol-containing foods, quitting smoking, and reducing excess weight, people can minimize their risk of ever developing CHD.

The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) within NIH’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute recommends adults over 20 years old have their cholesterol levels checked at least every five years. The desirable cholesterol levels are listed below:

  • Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol): Less than 100 mg/dL
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ("good" cholesterol): 40 mg/dL or higher
  • Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL

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