Go Red: Heart Health, Cholesterol and All Those Other Fats


Loved-One worries about heart attacks. For some reason the one symptom he remembers most is anxiety. Once he saw a woman trying to find her seat at a Bull’s game. “i think she’s having a heart attack,” he said. Look how anxious she is.”

According to Rosie O’Donnell, the symptoms for heart attack in women are esay to remember: Nausea, Exhaustion, Pain, Paleness.
Several years ago, I experienced heart palpitations. Loved-One was sure I was having a heart attack. My doctor referred me to cardiologist. it turns out I have a tiny anomoly in my heart beat. Not a heart attack.

“Nothing to worry about,” he said. “your cholesterol levels are the perfect ratio. You will never have a heart attack.”

“You could lose a little weight.” he is paper thin.

“I try but nothing seems to work.”

“Eat less an move more,” he said.

I set out to prove him wrong, because I exercise and I watch my calories. Believe it or not, he was right. I did lose weight, but it takes a whole lot more “eating less” and “moving more” seems to take a lot more energy.

My cholesterol stayed the same. Stll, less weight is less stress on the heart, the joints, and the lungs. So less is better.

So what is cholesterol? It’s not heart disease, the same way obesity is not heart disease. But both of these can lead to heart disease.

According to the Heart Association

Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the blood and in all the body’s cells. When it builds in the inner walls of your arteries over time, it hardens and turns into plaque. That plaque can narrow the artery walls and reduce blood flow, which you guessed it, can cause blocks that can lead to blood clots, heart attacks or strokes. You might be surprised to learn that your body actually needs
cholesterol to function normally and to stay healthy. But what we need to remember is that our bodies are fully capable of making all the cholesterol it needs. It’s what you put into your body (yes, we mean those salty snacks and baked goods), and in some cases your family health history that causes trouble. It’s also important to note that all cholesterol isn’t created equally. There are two types: good and bad. And understanding the difference and knowing the levels of each in your blood is critical. Too much of one type, or not enough of another, can put you at risk.

    LDL (bad) cholesterol:

This is the type that, when too much is present in the blood stream, can clog your arteries and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. It’s produced naturally by the body, but is also inherited from your parents or even grandparents, andate too much. Eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol also increases how much you have.

    HDL (good) cholesterol:

It is believed by some experts that high levels of this type of cholesterol removes excess plaque from your arteries, slowing its buildup and helping to protect against a heart attack. Low levels, however, can actually increase your


: This is a form of fat made in the body. If you have an inactive lifestyle, a diet high in carbohydrates, smoke, are obese or drink too much alcohol, it can raise total cholesterol levels, and lead to high LDL and low HDL levels.

This week I took the Go Red Heart Check up:

Yeah! I’m at a very low risk of heart disease, less than 2%

None of the risks for cardiovascular disease.


Still, my general practitioner tells me that a cholesterol lowering drug will make my risk even less. My Bad Cholesterol is borderline high. The Go Red evaluation tells me that I can get my risk of heart attack down to 1% if I lower my cholesterol.

“I’ll bet you almost everyone you know is on a cholesterol lowering drug,” Doctor tells me.

“I’ll bet you they’re not. Most of my friends work for the pharmaceutical industry, and we are hyper-aware of the side effects of all drugs.”

Cholesterol lowering drugs are all hard on the liver. The way many of these drugs work is to interrupt the body’s cholesterol production. Cholesterol is made by the liver by an enzymatic process. In other words, the drugss interrupt the normal liver process. Since Dad had hemochormatosis and died from resulting liver cancer, I really try to keep my liver healthy. I need that as much as I need my heart, so I’ll try to keep trying to lower my cholesterol with diet and excercise.
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Here are the Fat numbers:

    Total cholesterol:

Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for heart disease.200 to 239 mg/dL: Considered borderline high.240 mg/dL and above: High blood cholesterol. A person with this level has more than twice the risk of heart disease.

    HDL cholesterol levels

: Less than 50 mg/dL: Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.60 mg/dL and above: High HDL cholesterol. Considered protective against heart disease.

    LDL cholesterol levels

: Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal100 to 129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal130 to 159 mg/dL: Borderline high160 to 189 mg/dL: High190 mg/dL and above: Very high

    Triglyceride levels

: Less than 100 mg/dL: OptimalLess than 150 mg/dL: Normal150–199 mg/dL: Borderline high200–499 mg/dL: High500 mg/dL and above: Very high

Do you know your numbers? Do you have a plan to keep your heart healthy?