Free Cholesterol Testing at Health and Fitness Expo

What should your cholesterol numbers really be?  You can get them checked for free at the Health and Fitness Expo this weekend.

 Pete Watson never had to worry about heart disease; But all that changed, last year.

"I would have these business dinners and business lunches and those were all huge meals with a lot of the things you shouldn't eat," Watson said. 

The result, as Dr. Robert Sallis at Kaiser Permanente found out, was high cholesterol. 

There are two kinds of cholesterol, or fats, that your body produces.  The bad cholesterol is called LDL.

"That's the one that's associated with the highest risk of heart attack, and strokes and other diseases that are caused by clogging of the arteries," Dr. Sallis said.   

Most experts say the LDL should be less than 100.

The good cholesterol is HDL, and you want that to be as high as possible.

"The best thing to raise your HDL level is exercise - 30 minutes of a brisk walk is the best pill to take," Dr. Sallis said.

You should also test your triglycerides, and your c-reactive protein; both of which may help us assess your risk of heart disease.

When Pete found out that his cholesterol was high, he set out immediately to address it.

Dr. Sallis put him on a low dose of statins, the most common form of cholesterol lowering drug being prescribed; But what really got the cholesterol numbers right, were the lifestyle changes.  He and his wife started reading labels at the grocery store.

"We either walk, play golf, or we bought one of the Wii fit at Christmas.  We do one of those things about 4 times a week," Watson said.

When he went to the doctor again, he reaped the rewards of his efforts, as Dr. Sallis showed him: "It has really dramatically improved since last year when it was 208.  And we got you started on a regular exercise program and it has dropped down to 144."

"The steps: get your cholesterol numbers checked. If they put you at risk you may be able to try diet and exercise and over the counter supplements like niacin.  If that doesn't work statins can be life preserving, though they need to prescribed and followed by a doctor," Dr. Hensel said.

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