National Cholesterol Month is commemorated each September, when health professionals and organizations across the United States focus on cholesterol education.
This dedicated month serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of controlling cholesterol levels for heart health.
Understanding Cholesterol: The Good and the Bad
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the body’s cells and in the foods you eat.
While the body needs cholesterol to grow healthy cells, having high levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.
This can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of heart disease.
In contrast, so-called “good” cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
The importance of National Cholesterol Education Month:
The main goal of this month is to raise awareness about the importance of managing cholesterol levels.
Many people may not be aware of their cholesterol levels or the impact of high cholesterol on heart health.
National Cholesterol Education Month emphasizes that high cholesterol can be prevented and controlled through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medications.
It encourages people to take proactive steps to protect their hearts.
With health care professionals to educate the public about the importance of regular cholesterol screenings, understanding cholesterol levels and adopting healthy lifestyles.
National Cholesterol Month: taking action for heart health:
The first step in controlling your cholesterol is knowing your numbers.
Regular cholesterol screenings are essential, especially if you have risk factors such as a family history of heart disease or other health conditions.
Adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats such as those found in olive oil and avocados.
Also limit saturated and trans fats, and reduce dietary cholesterol intake.
Physical activity is crucial for heart health.
Ideally, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week is ideal.
Maintain a healthy weight:
Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is vital.
Smoking damages blood vessels and lowers HDL cholesterol.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
Medication, if needed:
In some cases, lifestyle changes may not be enough to control cholesterol.
Your health care provider can prescribe medications to help lower cholesterol levels.
National Cholesterol Month: Cholesterol Control Resources
- American Heart Association (AHA): offers a wealth of resources, including information on heart-healthy diets, exercise guidelines and cholesterol management.
- National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP): provides cholesterol management guidelines, tools and resources.
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH): information on heart health initiatives, preventive measures and resources available in the state. Visit for updates.
- Boston Area Hospitals: Leading Boston-area hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston Medical Center provide comprehensive cardiovascular care and cholesterol management resources.
- Community Health Centers: Massachusetts community health centers offer cholesterol screenings, preventive care, and heart health education. They serve as accessible resources for residents, including those with limited access to health care.
- Online health portals: trusted health websites such as WebMD, Mayo Clinic and Healthline offer articles, tools and calculators to help you understand and manage your cholesterol levels.
- Pharmacies: Some pharmacies offer cholesterol screenings and consultations with pharmacists who can provide information on cholesterol-lowering medications and over-the-counter supplements.
Cholesterol management is a lifelong journey.
Regular screenings, ongoing dietary adjustments and commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle are key components to maintaining optimal cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and recommendations.
The information contained on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.
Readers should direct any questions regarding their personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.