Know Your Numbers and Prevent Heart Disease
When was the last time you went to see a doctor for a regular check-up? One of the standard procedures at an adult check-up is often a blood test called a lipid profile. This test checks the cholesterol levels in your blood. In the past, research has measured low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol (LDL-C) levels at only one point in a person’s life and studied how it was associated with cardiovascular disease. But now, a new study puts emphasis on the importance of knowing your LDL-C numbers earlier. Researchers found significant evidence that cumulative exposure to high levels of LDL-C increases risk for heart disease.
In this study, investigators knew that having unhealthy levels of LDL-C is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But they wanted to learn more about people who have unhealthy levels over a longer period of time. After studying thousands of participants for about 16 years, investigators concluded that when participants have longer exposure to elevated levels of LDL-C in young adulthood and middle age, they have an increased risk of heart disease. Put more simply, for the general population, knowing about your own levels of LDL-C sooner or in young adulthood may help inform you of strategies that reduce risk of developing heart disease over a lifetime.
So, when was the last time you had a cholesterol test? On average, research surveys estimate that around 30% of the Millennial generation (ages 25-40) do not have a regular doctor. This means it is likely many people in our nation’s largest generation are not aware if they have unhealthy levels of LDL-C, and yet they are old enough to have their cholesterol checked. Considering this research study, some participants were tested as young as 18 years old. You may not feel old enough, but wellness matters even in youth.
It’s time to take action. When was the last time you visited your doctor and had blood work done? Work with your healthcare provider to understand your cholesterol results, and consider strategies to prevent heart disease. Knowing about your cholesterol levels could mean reducing risk of heart disease for years to come. Want to know more about heart disease prevention? Check out the other posts in our series below.