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April 17, 2013 06:13 PM

Dangers Of High Cholesterol

Sioux Falls, SD

Most people never get their cholesterol checked, but if you're over the age of 20, the American Heart Association recommends getting it tested every five years.

69-year-old Belva Jorgensen is in for a check-up with her cardiologist. The Viborg woman recently had a pacemaker put in to regulate her heartbeat.

"I had a total knee put in on the 25th of March and after I got out of surgery, my heart went funny," Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen was surprised to find out she suffers from a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, but she did have one warning sign. Around a year ago doctors diagnosed Jorgensen with high cholesterol.

"People with high cholesterol have four times more risk of having a heart attack," Sanford Cardiologist Dr. Orvar Jonsson said.

Jonsson says high cholesterol can also lead to a stroke or peripheral vascular disease. Jonsson says it's important to get tested, because high cholesterol has no symptoms.

One of the benefits of knowing you have high cholesterol is then you can take steps, like exercising, to lower it.

"Watch what you eat. Try to cut down on your fat, greasy foods," Jonsson said.

Jonsson says people with a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease, those with diabetes and people who smoke are more at risk for high cholesterol.

"If you know about that when you're younger and you take care of that and lower your cholesterol, you can either delay having heart disease later in life or even prevent it," Jonsson said.

And that’s why Jorgensen and her husband are encouraging their children to get their cholesterol checked.

My daughter lives in North Dakota and she came down when I had the operation. She said, 'I'm going home and getting myself checked, Mom,'" Jorgensen said.

With HealthBeat, I'm Casey Wonnenberg.

You can get your cholesterol checked at this weekend's Sanford Health and KELO-TV Health Fair. The event is Friday and Saturday at the Empire Mall.

The cholesterol screening is part of a chemistry panel with lipid test and costs $25.

Click here for more information.

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