High Cholesterol and Women; What Are the Health Risks?
What exactly is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is found in every cell and is needed for day to day functioning. Cholesterol occurs naturally in your body. It is a fat know as lipid. There are 2 types of cholesterol; LDL and HDL. Generally, LDL is known as "bad" and HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol.
How is cholesterol different for women than men?
Women tend to have higher HDL ("good") levels of cholesterol due to estrogen levels, which occurs prior to menopause. Women also tend to have higher triglyceride levels. The cycle of cholesterol is also very different for men and women:
- During pregnancy a woman's cholesterol level increases dramatically overall. This is in order for the fetus to develop properly.
- Before menopause, women with high levels of cholesterol more at risk for heart disease development and carotid artery disease.
- After menopause, estrogen production slows and decreases HDL cholesterol and increases LDL cholesterol.
Why is cholesterol important in women's health?
The number one killer in the United Stated for women is heart disease. It is responsible for more deaths than all the cancers combined. Heart disease is developed when the "bad" cholesterol causes plaque buildup in artery walls.
How is heart disease and cholesterol linked in women?
A major risk factor for heart disease is high blood cholesterol.
What can I do to avoid heart disease?
Luckily, several preventative measures can be taken to lower your chances of heart disease:
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Maintain a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly.
- Control other health issues that could be a threat to your overall health. This would include diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is the replacement of sex hormones (especially estrogen) that are lost during menopause. The main purpose of HRT is to reduce the symptoms of menopause. This can include hot flashes, anxiety, depression, irritability, night sweats, and irregular menstruation.
What questions should I ask my doctor about cholesterol?
- What are my cholesterol levels?
- How often should I have my cholesterol checked and evaluated?
- Is it urgent that I lower my cholesterol?
- What is my risk factor?
- Should I adhere to a certain diet plan?
- What about exercise in relation to my cholesterol levels?
- Should I take cholesterol -lowering medications?
- Am I a candidate for HRT?
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