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High Cholesterol:
Why Testing is Important for Young and Older Adults

  • Staff Writer May 7, 2020
  • High cholesterol levels in the body can limit blood flow, which increases the risk of heart disease, which can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol has no symptoms and can only be detected by a blood test. Although people might think it's only necessary to get a cholesterol screening later on in adulthood, an earlier awareness of high cholesterol levels can allow for measures to reduce them, and thus avoid health complications later on.

  • What Age Should Cholesterol Testing Begin?

    South African cholesterol guidelines recommend that people at a higher risk (such as a family history of high cholesterol, or other illnesses or cardiac risk factors) should start having their cholesterol levels tested from around 20 years of age. They also recommend that even those without risk factors should have their cholesterol levels tested from the age of 40.

    Why Knowing Your Cholesterol Levels is Important?

    Research by the Multinational Cardiovascular Risk Consortium has suggested that a single blood cholesterol level test in early adulthood can assist in predicting the risk of developing coronary heart disease or stroke by the age of 75.

    The awareness of having high cholesterol levels could strongly encourage the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, such as a balanced diet, regular exercise and no smoking.

  • How To Reduce Your Cholesterol Levels?

    The first step is to understand if you have high cholesterol levels or are at risk of developing heart diseases. This can be determined with a simple lipogram test.

    You can make simple lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, starting with a heart-healthy diet. Reduce saturated fats, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, which raise your total cholesterol, and eliminate trans fats, which are found in margarines and cookies, crackers and cakes. Eat more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds, and increase your consumption of fiber, such as oatmeal, kidney beans, apples and pears.

    Exercise can improve cholesterol, so aim to exercise for 30 minutes five times a week. Quitting smoking can dramatically decrease cholesterol levels. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation, as too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.

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