By Sue Schick
CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania & Delaware
You see TV commercials, magazine ads, and pamphlets in your doctor’s office, all proclaiming the dangers of high cholesterol. But you feel healthy and have never worried about high cholesterol or heart problems. So, why do you need to have a cholesterol test?
Your cholesterol level is a key indicator of your risk for serious illness. If you know your numbers, you can make changes to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that our bodies need to function. It allows us to form cell membranes, many hormones, and bile acids (which digest fat). On the flipside, too much cholesterol can hurt you. By building up on the inside walls of your arteries, cholesterol will increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
There are no definite symptoms of high cholesterol. In fact, most individuals are unaware that their cholesterol levels are high until they receive the results of a blood test. Be sure to schedule a test with your doctor.
You should know your total cholesterol, “healthy” HDL cholesterol, and “bad” LDL cholesterol numbers. The normal range for total cholesterol is 200 or less. The optimal range for HDL cholesterol is more than 60 and LDL cholesterol should be less than 100. High total cholesterol, high LDL, or low HDL may increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.