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When To Get Your Cholesterol Checked

April 9, 2014, 6:08 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

When To Get Your Cholesterol Checked

If you've never had your cholesterol level tested, you might want to do that soon.   

Cholesterol plays a major role in your heart health, and the treatment guidelines have recently changed.

Jessica Glissendorf works out six days a week.  Her goal: running her first half marathon.

"That's kind of the next step after the 5k, to do a half-marathon," Glissendorf said.

But the 25-year-old has another reason to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.

"Both my parents have high cholesterol, so they are both on medication," Glissendorf said.

While you might think people like Glissendorf should not have to worry about their cholesterol level in their 20s, the American Heart Association recommends that adults ages 20 years and older have their cholesterol checked every five years.

"There is a benefit to test cholesterol earlier because we have plenty of time to start appropriate therapies," Sanford Cardiologist Dr. Maria Stys said.

Now therapies are much more aggressive under new guidelines, which could put millions of more people on cholesterol-lowering medications.

"We will treat many more patients than we have in the past," Stys said.

The recommendations from the American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology suggest statins for people in the following groups: patients with cardiovascular disease; those with a LDL level, or bad cholesterol level, of 190 or higher; patients between ages 40 and 75 who have type 2 diabetes; and patients between 40 and 75 who have had risk factors for cardiovascular disease for ten years or more.

"We want patients though to be their own doctors. We need to stay healthy by sticking to activities. Be active, at least a half hour of brisk walking or equivalent a day. Diet, which is not torture, and minor modifications," Stys said.

That is exactly what Glissendorf hopes to do.

"It would definitely be beneficial if I didn't have to be on medication for stuff like that," Glissendorf said.

You can get your cholesterol level checked at this week's Sanford Health / KELO-TV Health Fair.  It's this Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Empire Mall.

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