More than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, making it the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. That works out to one in four deaths each year being related to heart disease, with cholesterol often a key factor. The most common type of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart attack. Anyone, children included, can develop heart disease, which occurs when a substance known as plaque builds up in the arties. This can eventually cause a narrowing of the arteries, thus inhibiting the flow of blood to the heart. Several factors can increase our risk of developing heart disease over time; these include smoking, a poor diet and not getting sufficient exercise. It's important to know your numbers when it comes to your heart health – numbers that should be checked at least once a year during an annual physical. These include blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. High numbers in any or all those measurements are a warning sign that you could be at increased risk of heart disease. Even if your numbers, at the moment, are in a healthy range, they are something you should always be monitoring and discussing with your physician so he or she can provide the proper guidance you need to either stave off worsening numbers or to get your high numbers down to a healthy level.
Healthy Cholesterol ManagementGetting our cholesterol checked – via a blood test – has long been a routine part of getting an annual physical. For years, the key number was total cholesterol, with a reading of under 200 mg/dL typically considered healthy. In recent years, though, total cholesterol, while still an important health measurement, is now regarded by health experts as just part of the cholesterol equation. We now know it is important to closely monitor our LDL ( bad ) cholesterol is as well as our HDL ( good ) cholesterol, with the goal being to keep the LDL down and the HDL higher, the ideal result being to have a healthy ratio between the two numbers. The best defense against high or bad cholesterol are a healthy diet that is high on soluble fiber and plenty of regular exercise. Even that might not be enough, however, with health care professionals often prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications for patients with high cholesterol. A variety of statin drugs available via prescription are on the market and have shown success in lowering cholesterol, often producing significant reductions. However, these are sometimes accompanied by unsavory side effects that have included possible liver damage, memory loss, muscle damage and heightened diabetes risks, per amazingwellnessmag.com.
Supplements and Vitamins Support Healthy CholesterolMany natural remedies in the form of supplements and vitamins have been shown effective in managing or lowering cholesterol. Caution, though: anyone thinking of using these as an alternative to drugs when medications might be needed are strongly advised to discuss the topic with their physician first. Don't ditch the drugs and start a supplement/vitamin regimen without proper professional guidance first. Following are several supplements or vitamins to consider when keeping cholesterol management in mind. Be sure to study each before adding them to your regimen, again, to include consultation with a healthcare professional – some of these can cause annoying side effects:
- Niacin. It also goes by B3 and has been used successfully for decades to lower cholesterol. It is recognized by both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association in this regard, per amazingwellnessmag.com.
- Psyllium. This is a soluble fiber, which not only helps lower total cholesterol, it can also reduce triglycerides. This is especially helpful for diabetics, per webmd.com.
- Artichoke extract. Per Mayo Clinic, it has the potential to lower LDL ( bad ) cholesterol as well as total cholesterol.
- Fish oil. Usually found in the form of a liquid oil or oil-filled capsules. Also known as Omega-3's.
- CoQ10. Per draxe.com, cholesterol-reducing drugs can lower this important enzyme, so using a CoQ10 supplement can help restore this enzyme's level to where it should be.
- Plant stanols/sterols. Per berkeleywellness.com, these plant compounds, found in some foods, work to obstruct the absorption of dietary cholesterol – which is a good thing.