Cholesterol Matters For Women

Do you know more women than men have high cholesterol in the United States?

Approximately 45 percent of women over the age of 20 have a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and above, and 200 mg/dl is a borderline high level. However, a survey by the American Heart Association found that 76 percent of women don’t even know what their cholesterol values are.

A standard lipid blood test will help you know your cholesterol values. The test contains four indicators,

  1. total cholesterol
  2. HDL cholesterol – meaning high density,  HDL is the good one
  3. LDL cholesterol – meaning low density, LDL is the bad one
  4. triglycerides levels

Simply speaking, higher values in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides means higher chance of coronary heart disease (CHD) and heart attack. HDL cholesterol is different, higher HDL cholesterol lowers the risk of CHD or heart attack.

When women are young, in general they have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men because the female sex hormone estrogen seems to boost this good cholesterol. But this changes completely at menopause. At this point, many women have rising total and LDL cholesterol and dropping HDL cholesterol(more bad ones and less good ones). Women who used to have favorable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with elevated cholesterol later in life.

What is cholesterol? How does it hurt us? It’s a substance like wax, it sticks to the lining of the arteries and over a period of time develops into plaque. Plaque makes the blood vessel stiffer and narrower for blood to pass through, leading to high blood pressure and ischemia.  Then one day the plaques can break off and cause a heart attack or a stroke.

Even the cholesterol problem becomes more serious since menopause,the buildup inside of your artery can start as early as your 20s.

So for all women, even if your cholesterol numbers are normal, a healthy lifestyle will make it easier for you after menopause. If your numbers are already higher than desired values, a healthy lifestyle and doctor’s advice will be helpful to you.

 

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.