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Cardiology

Understand Your Cholesterol Levels, Know Your Risk of Heart Disease

Cardiology: Go Red for Women Understanding and maintaining control of one’s cholesterol is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Both hereditary and lifestyle factors affect cholesterol, and educating yourself on your levels can prevent, reduce or control health problems. A healthy lifestyle actually is the foundation of keeping cholesterol in check.

“Basically, it’s diet, exercise, quitting smoking and losing weight,” explains family practice physician, Mala Singh, D.O. “I tell my patients to pick up healthier habits, like eating less saturated and trans fats, limiting high cholesterol foods, watching portion sizes and eating four to six small meals per day. I also urge my patients to exercise at least two-and-a-half hours per week, and work up to exercising six days a week, with two of the days dedicated to strength training.”

Dr. Singh adds that stress elevates cholesterol, so she also recommends incorporating yoga and other stress relief into her patient’s routines.

“It is important to note that cholesterol checks should begin when a person is in their 20s,” Dr. Singh says. “Sometimes, I’ll even check teenagers’ cholesterol levels, so I have a baseline and can begin preventative measures, if necessary. Whatever age my patient is, if their cholesterol is borderline, I will educate them, reinforce the necessity of lifestyle modifications and provide support before prescribing any medication.”

The frequency of cholesterol checks depends on cholesterol levels, Dr. Singh says. “If a patient is on a statin—a medication to control their cholesterol, we check it every four months,” she says. “If the cholesterol levels are borderline, we repeat it again in four months. If cholesterol levels look good, a check once a year is fine.”

Dr. Singh reminds patients to be proactive and talk to their physician about cholesterol and other important screening tests. Knowing your family history, risk factors and personal health history also helps you stay as healthy as possible.

“"It is important to note that cholesterol checks should begin when a person is in their 20s,” says Mala Singh, D.O..”

A table from the American Heart Association breaks down cholesterol levels and how they affect the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood—mg/dl.

Total Cholesterol Level Category
Less than 200 mg/dl Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for heart disease.
200-239 mg/dl Borderline high
240 mg/dl and higher High blood cholesterol
HDL Cholesterol Level Category
Less than 40 mg/dl (men) Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.
Less than 50 mg/dl (women) 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 Level Category
Less than 100 mg/dl Optimal
100-129 mg/dl Normal
130-159 mg/dl Borderline high
160-189 mg/dl High
190 mg/dl and above Very High
Triglyceride Level Category
Less than 100 mg/dl Optimal
Less than 150 mg/dl Normal
150-199 mg/dl Borderline high
200-499 mg/dl High
500 mg/dl and above Very High

Have you Checked your Cholesterol Lately?

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Mala Singh, D.O.
Family Practice
Lee Physician Group
8960 Colonial Center Drive, Suite 300
Fort Myers, FL 33905
239-343-9470

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