Forty percent of Canadians aged 40 to 59 have blood cholesterol levels that put them at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but less than half of them know it.
And less than a third — 30 per cent — who are aware their levels are outside of healthy limits, have their cholesterol under control. (These numbers come from the Canadian Health Measures Survey, 2012/2015.)
Blood cholesterol levels are only one of several things that contribute to your overall cardiovascular risk (others include age, gender and menopausal status), but nonetheless, it’s important that you know what they are, so if necessary, you can take steps to improve them.
These include eating more unprocessed or minimally-processed plant-based foods, incorporating more physical activity into your day. (Bonus: both habits have beneficial effects on three other risk factors, namely unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and elevated blood pressure.)
So if you don’t know what your numbers are, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check.
You can learn more about what constitutes a healthy cholesterol profile, and what you can do to control your risk of heart attack and stroke, by reading this health feature that originally appeared in Good Times’ November 2017 issue: Take Control of Your Cholesterol.
Heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so kindly shared their time and expertise:
- Dr. Todd Anderson, now former director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute; and professor in the department of cardiac sciences at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.
- Carol Dombrow, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
- Dr. Ross Feldman, medical director of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Cardiac Sciences Program, and principal investigator, Women’s Health Institute, at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at St. Boniface Hospital.
- Dr. Rob Hegele, a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and director of the lipid genetics clinic at London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont.
- Dr. Murray Huff, now a professor emeritus in the department of medicine and biochemistry at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine, and a scientist at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ont.