Posts Tagged ‘American Heart Association’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

The American Heart Association offers a free app for your smart phone with simple instructions on how to use hands only CPR. It is called, appropriately, “Hands-Only CPR.”  I downloaded the app and the first thing you see on the screen is instruction on what to do if an adult collapses. The first instruction is to call 911. Now this mean seem obvious, but when you are in a panic situation, sometimes what is obvious normally becomes confusing. So being reminded, to call 911 is clear-headed practical advice. The other thing on the main screen is a simple direction of how to perform CPR (Push hard and fast in the center of the chest) with a link to a short video showing you how to perform hands-only CPR (no mouth to mouth).

According to the info in the app (Supplied by the American Heart Association),  studies have shown that Hands-Only CPR can be as effective as conventional CPR (with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation added). This is one app you don’t want to miss! It could save the life of someone you know.

Check out the Hands-Only CPR App on iTunes here. It also works on Android phones.

Jive Media, Inc also produces other useful life saving apps:  Pocket First Aid & CPR (for $1.99) and Pet First Aid($2.99). Apparently, it costs more to learn basic pet first aid than human first aid!

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National Wear Red Day 2012

National Wear Red Day 2012 (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Montevideo)

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Are you surprised that heart attack is the number one cause of death for women? I was.  I wrote a paper for my Behavioral Medicine class in my graduate program in Psychology about women and heart disease. I learned so much about women’s heart attack symptoms and important screening exams that I thought I’d share some of what I learned with my loyal workingwellresources readers!

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, is considered to be an acute manifestation of cardiovascular disease. Heart attacks are usually caused when a blockage of the blood vessels supplying the heart with oxygenated blood causes blood to cease flowing to an area of the heart, causing that portion of the heart to be damaged or die. These blockages are most frequently caused by fatty deposits or plaque that builds up in the inner walls of arterial blood vessels. Symptoms for a heart attack are different in women than for men. In women, a heart attack may be occurring when a woman feels pressure or fullness in the center of the chest for more than a few minutes.  However, in men, heart attacks are often reported as feelings of intense discomfort or pressure in the chest. Women may experience shortness of breath even without chest discomfort. Women may also break out into a cold sweat feel nauseated or light-headed during a heart attack. In women, a heart attack can also manifest as shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the back and/or jaw and nausea or vomiting. Men and woman can feel pain or pressure in the chest, but because symptoms tend to be less severe in women with heart attacks, many woman ignore the symptoms or take an aspirin and go to bed, thinking they have the flu, acid reflex or are just getting older. And since women tend to have heart attacks, on average, 10 years later than men, female heart attack victims tend to have a higher tendency to occur along with other chronic disease like diabetes or hypertension which puts them at greater risk than men for heart attacks to be fatal.

 According to the American Heart Association, each year approximately 785,000 U.S. citizens have an initial heart attack and another 470,000 have a recurrent heart attack. In 2007, according to the American Heart Association, 391, 886 U.S. men and 421, 918 U.S. women died of heart attacks.

Medical Treatments

Current medical treatment for hear disease includes prevention in the form of eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco smoke, first and second-hand. Those that have heart attacks and survive them, as well as those with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, can lower the risk of another heart attack by taking statins to lower cholesterol, drugs to lower blood pressure and aspirin.

When a woman is having a heart attack, she needs emergency medical care in the form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or electric shock (defibrillation) until she can get to the hospital. At the hospital, medical personnel will conduct tests to decide if she is experiencing a heart attack and determine the best course of treatment depending on the severity of the attack and her general health.

For those with heart disease, or for those surviving heart attacks, surgeries such as coronary artery bypass, balloon angioplasties, heart valve repair and replacement and heart transplants are available. For some patients, there are also medical implants that can help keep their heart operating, including pacemakers to keep the heart beating regularly, prosthetic valves to replace faulty heart valves and patches which can be used to close holes in the heart muscle.

Psychological Factors Affecting Risk, Onset, Severity and Recovery

Since women tend to have less severe symptoms of heart attack and tend to be caretakers of others, females may not take signs of a heart attack as seriously and may not seek appropriate medical attention. In addition, since women tend to have greater Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, on average 10 years later than men, females may discount the severity of the attack, thinking their symptoms are a sign of aging or are not serious enough to go to the hospital. If a weakened heart is left untreated, by the time a woman has a serious heart attack, it is likely to be more severe than a man’s heart attack for these reasons. And lastly, since women tend to be caretakers, after a heart attack, females may not feel comfortable taking the required time to recover and may push themselves to go back to work or childcare before they are fully recovered, thus increasing the risk of re-occurrence of a heart attack.

Sociocultural and Economic Influences

Aside from females being underrepresented in clinical trails for heart disease, over 80% of fatalities from heart diseases occur in people living in low-income and middle-income countries. Some of the risk factors for heart disease in low and middle-income countries include poverty and stress, as well as unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles. People in these countries also tend to have reduced access to effective health care including early detection. So being poor and having a stressful life with little exercise and a poor diet makes you a winner–in the heart attack game, that is. And who wants to “win” by having a heart attack?!

Since 80% of coronary heart disease is caused by behavioral risk factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and cigarette smoking, you can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by engaging in healthier lifestyle behaviors such as quitting smoking, eating more vegetables and fruits and exercising more. Isn’t this list of healthy lifestyle behaviors becoming repetitive? It seems that most of our health problems, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure–all share the same common lifestyle risk factors of poor diet, not getting enough movement in our bodies easy day and cutting down on tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking. But even if you don’t engage in these unhealthy behaviors, getting regular medical exams for blood pressure and cholesterol tend to be lower your risk of having a heart attack. Lastly, learning stress management techniques as well as coping skills to better manage stress in your live can help your heart beat more easily, help your body overall work better and help you feel better and live longer!

So what is your game plan to reduce your risk of having a heart attack? I’d like to hear from you!


American Heart Association (2012) Heart Attack Symptoms in Women. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Warning-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_002039_Article.jsp.)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2012) Heart Disease. (http://www.cdc.gov/HeartDisease/coronary_ad.htm/)

Mayo Clinic (2011). Heart disease. (http://mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease/DS01120).

McSweeny, J.C., Cody, M., Elbertson, K., Moser, D.K., Garvin, B.J. (2003) Women’s early warning symptoms of acute myocardial infarction. Circulation 108(21), 2619-23.

Roger, V.L., Go. A.S., Lloyd-Jones, D.M., Adams, R.J., Berry, J.D., Brown, T.M.,…Wylie-Rosett, J. (2011). Heart disease and stroke statistics–2011 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123(4), e18-e209.

World Health Organization (n.d.), Cardiovascular disease. (http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/)

Worrall-Carter, L., Ski, C., Scruth, E., Campbell, M & Page, K. (2011) Systemic review of

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Check out these Easy Exercise videos for women who are beginners, baby boomers and seniors from Mirabai! Mirabai Holland M.F.A. is one of the leading authorities in the Health and Fitness industry. She Specializes in Easy Exercise Videos and Medical Exercise Videos for Women. She has: Easy Exercise videos for beginners, Easy Exercise videos for Baby Boomers, Easy Exercise videos for Seniors, and Easy Medical Exercise videos. Mirabai uses her Moving Free® Easy Exercise Technique on all her videos. Moving Free® with Mirabai doesn’t feel like work!Watch Video

Who is Mirabi and Why Should We Check Out her Videos?

Mirabai Holland M.F.A. is one of the leading authorities in the health & Fitness Industry and a public health activist who specializes in preventive and rehabilitative exercise. She is the creator of the Skeletal Fitness by Mirabai Holland®: A Workout For Your Bones, Fabulous Forever® Easy Aerobics, and Fabulous Forever® Easy Stretch: Flexibility and Stress Reduction home exercise videos.

New York Magazine once called her the “best aerobics teacher in New York City”. Mirabai has made numerous TV appearances as a Health & fitness expert including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Nightly News, and a Nationally Syndicated Women’s Health Series produced by ABC. As a free-lance journalist for the New York Times, American Health, First For Women, and trade magazines like IDEA Today, Metro Sports, Club Industry and Fitness Management, Holland’s writing has reached over 20 million readers.

About MirabaiHer Moving Free® approach to exercise is designed to provide a movement experience so pleasant it doesn’t feel like work. Virtually anyone can ease into the best shape of their life by simply Moving Free® along with Mirabai.

She is an active volunteer of the American Heart Association and has been on their committee on Preventive Cardiology and the Women’s Heart Initiative.

As a consultant for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, she designed the Women’s heart exercise protocol for their Cardiac Rehabilitation Phase II Program. She also designed the exercise program for Rutgers University College of Nursing entitled ” A Culturally Attuned Exercise Intervention for Coronary Heart Disease At-Risk Minority Women and Children.

Mirabai is a Contributor to the National Arthritis Foundation’s PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) manual. She served four years as chairperson of the American Council On Exercise (ACE) Exercise Instructor Examination Committee.

She has been a speaker at major health and fitness organizations and corporations including Forbes, Time Warner, American Heart Association, Education Coalition of the NJ Interagency Council on Osteoporosis, National Wellness Association, NJ Foundation of Aging, National Arthritis Foundation, NIKE Women’s’ Symposium, The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, Metro Sports, HIRSA, Club Industry, IDEA, East Coast Alliance, AAHPERD, Mind Body & Medicine and Women’s Health Symposium and the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

She is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Aquatic Exercise Association, holds 2 certifications by the American College of Sports Medicine (A.C.S.M.), and a Medical Exercise Specialist certification from the American Academy of Health and Fitness Professionals.

Currently, she is Director of Fitness and Wellness Programs at the 92nd Street Y, in New York City.

Note: Neither I, Sue Shekut, nor Working Well Massage is affiliated with Mirabai or her videos in  any way. I just found her info and thought I’d share it with my loyal readers! Enjoy!

Check out Mirabai’s Videos:

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Gentle exercise from EverydayHealth.com

The American Heart Association’s Start! initiative calls on all Americans and their employers to create a culture of physical activity and health to live longer, heart-healthy lives through walking. It offers resources for employers to implement a walking program in the workplace and track employees’ progress in the program. One of Start’s key components, National Start! Walking Day aims to get Americans up and moving for 30 minutes on April 8, 2009. National Start! Walking Day will take place during National Workplace Wellness Week.

Why walk?

There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health. Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

There really are so many benefits for such a simple activity!

How To Begin a Walking Program

The AHA offers these steps to begin a walking regimen:
Step 1: Remember that your safety is the most important thing! If you’re a male over 40 or a female over 50, you may want to work with your doctor to set up your exercise program.
Step 2: Get familiar with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for physical activity:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activities, 5 days a week
  • Remember that physical activity can be accumulated throughout the day. Three 10-minute sessions is the same as one 30-minute session!
  • If you’re looking to lose weigh or maintain your current weight, aim for 60-90 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day

Step 3: Always measure the intensity of your exercise to know if you’re pushing yourself too hard or not hard enough. An easy way to do this is by taking the talk test:

  • You should be able to sing while working out at a light intensity level
  • If you’re exercising at a moderate intensity level, you should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably
  • If you become too winded or out of breath to carry on a conversation, the activity can be considered vigorous

You can also download this chart from the American College of Sports Medicine and Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which lists physical activities by their level of intensity. Happy trails!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Worksite Wellness Programs Increases Productivity and Employee Retention

This coming week is National Workplace Wellness Week!  And no, it’s not just another Hallmark Holiday,  it’s a government resolution to promote workplace wellness.

History of Workplace Wellness Week

In 2008, the the U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal resolution creating National Workplace Wellness Week. The resolution, which was endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA), Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for Prevention and many other groups, designated the first full week of April as “National Workplace Wellness Week.” During this week, private and public employers across the country are encouraged to invest in the health of their employees by creating worksite employee health promotion programs, or by sharing their worksite wellness experiences with other employers.

Workplace Wellness Statistics

The American Heart Association offers a handy fact sheet with some alarming statistics on workplace wellness:

· Health care costs in the United States doubled from 1990 to 2001 and are expected to double again by 2012

· Chronic illnesses affect more than a third of working-age Americans and the costs associated with chronic diseases account for approximately 75 percent of the nation’s annual health care costs

· Over 130 million Americans are employed across the United States and since a significant part of their day is spent at work, comprehensive, culturally sensitive health promotion within the workplace is essential to maintain and improve the nation’s health

· Nearly 60 percent of employers’ after-tax profits are spent on corporate health benefits. An estimated 25-30 percent of companies’ medical costs per year are spent on employees with excess health risk. That contrasts to three decades ago when only seven percent of corporate profits paid for health costs

· Addressing risk factors early can make a difference. For example, $5.6 billion in heart disease costs could be saved if one-tenth of Americans began a regular walking program

· Employer spending on health promotion and chronic disease prevention is a good business investment. Programs have achieved a rate of return on investment ranging from $3 to $15 for each dollar invested with savings realized between 12 and 18 months

National Workplace Wellness Week starts on April 5th and offers a new approach to some old stubborn problems that employers and employees face related to costs, health, productivity and morale, to mention a few. This information can help any company and can help them to take action to conquer their own health and wellness issues.

Get Well With Working Well Massage

One way to help employees reduce stress, increase productivity and computational skills and reduce muscle tension is to bring in Licensed Massage Therapists from Working Well Massage to give staff members a short chair massage.  Massage is an easy, cost effective way for employers to kick off or inject new energy into a workplace wellness initiative.

If your company already has a workplace massage program, tell us what you like about it! How has it benefited you?

if your company does not provide employees with massages, ask your Human Resources Department to look into it. You, and your fellow staff members, will be glad you did! For information on setting up a workplace wellness program including massage therapy, go to our website.

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Does fitness have to be an all or nothing proposition? Experts say no.

Gentle exercise from EverydayHealth.com

Simply walking can have cardiovascular benefits. And you can walk a lot longer in your life than you may be able to run or kick box. Some take walking to the woods or hills and call it hiking. Others take walking to the streets for an “urban hike.” As a child, I walked everywhere my feet could take me–and my mother allowed! I could explore, see much more of my world, stop and smell the roses. As an adult I enjoy hiking in nature and walking around the city of Chicago. I see things I often miss when I am driving or biking. A good long walk clears my head, literally pumping fresh oxygen (via my blood) to my brain.

The American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association recommend that adults under 65 get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise 5 days a week to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease. And it does not have to be a consecutive 30 minutes of exercise. Three 10 minute walks will do the trick. Or, you can do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week for the same result. (In either case, twice a week, you should add in eight to 10 strength-training exercises of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.)

Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. (To lose weight or maintain weight loss, you likely need to add 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity.)

According to , at About.com, a study in the Nov. 14, 2005 issue of the “Archives of Internal Medicine” confirms that walking builds aerobic fitness at both moderate and high intensity.

Walk Longer or Walk Faster

Improvements in aerobic fitness were seen in the study group for those who walked with high intensity, either with low frequency or high frequency. But similar benefits for aerobic fitness were also seen for those walking at moderate intensity and high frequency.

“The findings demonstrate that significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness can be achieved and maintained over 24 months via exercise counseling with a prescription for walking 30 minutes per day, either at a moderate intensity five to seven days per week, or at a hard intensity three to four days per week,” Glen E. Duncan, Ph.D., R.C.E.P.S.M., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues concluded.
Reference: (Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165: 2362-2369.)

Walking Intensity vs. Frequency

  • Moderate Intensity Walking: Walking at 45-55% of maximum heart rate, an intensity at which you may be breathing a little harder than usual but able to keep up a full conversation.
  • High Intensity Walking: Walking at 65-75% of maximum heart rate. You are able to speak only in short sentences.
  • Low Frequency Walking: 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes a session.
  • High Frequency Walking: 5-7 times a week for 30 minutes a session.

Walking Prescription for Aerobic Fitness

The prescription for aerobic fitness gives you these choices:

  • High Intensity, Low Frequency: 30 minutes per day 3-4 days per week at 65-75% maximum heart rate.
  • Moderate Intensity, High Frequency: 30 minutes per day 5-7 days per week at 45-55% maximum heart rate.
  • High Intensity, High Frequency: 30 minutes per day 5-7 days per week at 65-75% maximum heart rate

Read entire article at About.com here.

How Do I Find My Target Heart Rate?

It’s easy! Use these simple online calculators.

Target Heart Rate Calculator from MayoClinic here.

Target Heart Rate Calculator based on your fitness level from About.com here.

Target Heart Rate Calculator for different intensity levels from Fitwatch.com here.

Or follow the instructions below from WikiHow.com to calculate your target heart rate the old fashioned pen and pencil way!

What’s this Karvonen Method of Calculating Target Heart Rate?

  1. Find your resting heart rate as soon as you wake up. You can do this by counting your pulse for one minute while still in bed. You may average your heart rate over three mornings to obtain your average resting heart rate (RHR). Add the three readings together, and divide that number by three to get the RHR. For example,(76 + 80 + 78) / 3= 78.
  2. Find your maximum heart rate and heart rate reserve.
    • Subtract your age from 220. This is your maximum heart rate (HRmax). For example, the HRmax for a 24-year-old would be220 – 24 = 196.
    • Subtract your RHR from your HRmax. This is your heart rate reserve (HRmaxRESERVE). For example,HRmaxRESERVE = 196 – 78 = 118
  3. Calculate the lower limit of your THR. Figure 60% of the HRmaxRESERVE (multiply by 0.6) and add your RHR to the answer. For example,(118 * 0.6) + 78 = 149.
  4. Calculate the upper limit of your THR. Figure 80% of the HRmaxRESERVE (multiply by 0.8) and add your RHR to the answer. For example,(118 * 0.8) + 78 = 172.
  5. Combine the values obtained in steps 3 and 4 and divide by the number 2. For example,(149 + 172) / 2 = 161 (You can get the same result by simply multiplying HRmaxRESERVE by 0.7 and adding to it RHR).

Tips for Checking Your Heart Rate

  • When you take your reading for your resting heart rate, make sure to do so the morning after a day where you are rested, as trying to do this after a day of a hard workout can affect your results.
  • You should ensure during your workout that your heart rate falls within your target heart rate zone to maximize cardiovascular fitness.
  • A rule-of-thumb is that if you’re able to sing, you’re not working out hard enough. Conversely, if you’re not able to talk, you’re working out too hard.
  • One of the most common ways to take a pulse is to lightly touch the artery on the thumb-side of the wrist, using your index and middle fingers. This is called a radial pulse check.
  • You may also place two fingers below the jawline, along the trachea (windpipe) to feel for a pulse, again using your index and middle fingers. This is called a carotid pulse check.
  • When taking your pulse for ten seconds during a workout, stop exercising. Do not allow yourself to rest before taking your pulse, and immediately resume exercise after the ten seconds. Multiply by 6 and you’ll have your heart rate.
  • If you are serious about working out and becoming more cardiovascularly fit, you may want to consider purchasing a heart monitor for accurate readings during your workout sessions.
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Some years ago, my father was wrestling with my nephews and could not get up when  he was wrestled to the wrestlingground. The kids didn’t realize anything was wrong and had left the playroom. For what seemed like 30 minutes, he could not get up nor move his arm nor call out for help. Eventually he was able to get up and tell my brother to call an ambulance.

Luckily for my dad, he did not have a stroke or heart attack. He simply had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) which was a warning sign that a true stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it.

My father went to the hospital and found out his cartoid artery was 90% occluded (blocked). Within a month, he had a carotid endarterectomy which removed the blockage and saved his life.

Why is this important to you?

 arterial plaque

Plaque in arteries from med.umich.edu

My father had been told he had high cholesterol but didn’t know what this meant for his health. The high levels of “bad” cholesterol caused plaque to build up in the arteries in his neck and narrow the space for blood to get to his brain. Even though he did not know it, he was slowly getting less and less oxygen to his brain and heading for a stroke, which could have happened while he was driving. When my nephews wrestled on him, they were jumping on his back and neck and likely dislodged some of the plaque which caused the transient ischemic attack.

Now my father takes cholesterol medication and watches his diet. He continues with his regular exercise routine. At 77, he’s an avid swimmer and maintains a home and his community’s lawn and drainage system. He gets regular checkups and monitors his cholesterol levels, now that he understands why it’s important. And yes, he still wrestles with my nephews!

Workplace Wellness Assessments

Many workplaces offer free wellness screenings as do health centers and hospitals. Wellness screenings often consist of checking your blood pressure, your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. But if your cholesterol levels are high, what does this mean for you?

How to Interpret Your Cholesterol Results

Your test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). To determine how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease, your doctor will also take into account other risk factors such as age, family history, smoking and high blood pressure.

A complete fasting lipoprotein profile will show:

Your Total Blood (or Serum) Cholesterol Level

Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable
If your LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels are also at desirable levels and you have no other risk factors for heart disease, total blood cholesterol below 200 mg/dL puts you at relatively low risk of coronary heart disease. Even with a low risk, however, it’s still smart to eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular physical activity and avoid tobacco smoke. Have your cholesterol levels checked every five years or as your doctor recommends.

200–239 mg/dL: Borderline-High Risk
If your total cholesterol falls between 200 and 239 mg/dL, your doctor will evaluate your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. It’s possible to have borderline-high total cholesterol numbers with normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol balanced by high HDL (good) cholesterol. Work with your doctor to create a prevention and treatment plan that’s right for you. Make lifestyle changes, including eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and avoiding tobacco smoke. Depending on your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and your other risk factors, you may also need medication. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol rechecked.

240 mg/dL and over: High Risk
People who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL or more typically have twice the risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is desirable (200 mg/dL). If your test didn’t show your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, your doctor should order a fasting profile. Work with your doctor to create a prevention and treatment plan that’s right for you. Whether or not you need cholesterol-regulating medication, make lifestyle changes, including eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and avoiding tobacco smoke.

Your HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level

With HDL (good) cholesterol, higher levels are better. Low HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL for men, less than 50 mg/dL for women) puts you at higher risk for heart disease. In the average man, HDL cholesterol levels range from 40 to 50 mg/dL. In the average woman, they range from 50 to 60 mg/dL. An HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or higher gives some protection against heart disease.

Smoking, being overweight and being sedentary can all result in lower HDL cholesterol. To raise your HDL level, avoid tobacco smoke, <!–
–>maintain a healthy weight<!– –> and get at least 30–60 minutes of physical activity more days than not.

People with high blood triglycerides usually also have lower HDL cholesterol and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Progesterone, anabolic steroids and male sex hormones (testosterone) also lower HDL cholesterol levels. Female sex hormones raise HDL cholesterol levels.

Your LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level

The lower your LDL cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, it’s a better gauge of risk than total blood cholesterol. In general, LDL levels fall into these categories:

LDL Cholesterol Levels
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100 to 129 mg/dL Near Optimal/ Above Optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline High
160 to 189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very High

Your other risk factors for heart disease and stroke help determine what your LDL level should be, as well as the appropriate treatment for you. A healthy level for you may not be healthy for your friend or neighbor. Discuss your levels and your treatment options with your doctor to get the plan that works for you.

For more info, go to the American Heart Association’s website here.

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