‘American Heart Month’ a great time to monitor cholesterol

Reducing elevated levels addresses one health-risk factor

By Dr. Rahmi Mowjood, DO

In Southern California we typically associate February with colder weather and rain storms. It’s the second month of the year. We transition from fighting off our winter colds and flu bugs and settle into the rhythm of a new year, with new resolutions and goals — all while waiting for our California spring and eventual summer.

Such expectations often are accompanied by the hope of a “new us.” Perhaps we’ll wear new clothes after we have achieved our new weight. Or maybe a new outlook on life after we have finally gotten healthy. Whatever the case, our early resolutions can often be challenged by the monotony of our daily lives, making us fall into bad habits.

What is not new, however, is that February is also known for heart health. Heart disease continues to be the No. 1 cause of death in both men and women. The most recent statistics indicate that 1 in 4 people in the U.S. will suffer from this disease.

There is, however, good news associated with these stats — heart disease is often caused by modifiable risks, the top three of which are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Modifying, eliminating and controlling these three will substantially reduce your risk for developing heart disease. As we are seeing younger and younger patients with this disease, the earlier you intervene, the better.

 

One step at a time

In the spirit of February’s focus on heart health awareness, it is important to make sure that all of these three risk factors are addressed. But it’s difficult to simultaneously make multiple changes in our lives.

As a physician, I don’t want to overwhelm my patients at Cucamonga Valley Medical Group by requesting that they make many lifestyle changes at once. Applying these changes in phases, step by step, can often lead to greater consistency and follow through, thereby leading to longer lasting effects on our health.

I would like to focus on one risk factor this month — elevated cholesterol. Yes, controlling high blood pressure and eliminating smoking are equally important. However, this month at CVMG, we would like our patients to focus on coming into the office to get a check-up by their physician. We can not only monitor your blood pressure and talk to you about smoking cessation techniques if needed, but we can also check your cholesterol.

Check-up, blood test are important tools

A simple blood test can help us identify whether you are at risk and help delineate your total cholesterol from your good cholesterol (HDL), your bad cholesterol (LDL) and your triglycerides.

While fats are necessary for our bodies, too often our diet and sedentary lifestyles contribute to elevated lipid levels in our blood. These can deposit in arteries throughout our bodies — the lower extremities, the neck, the brain, around the kidneys — and of course, in the arteries supplying oxygen to the heart.

Thankfully cholesterol can be controlled. Diet, exercise and, if needed, medication will control your cholesterol. This helps control your heart disease risk. It is a simple and straightforward test that can literally lead to a lifetime of health and reward.

We look forward to seeing you in the office this month, and don’t hesitate to ask your provider about your heart health, your risk factors, and your cholesterol levels.