Know Your Numbers, Know the Facts
The most important question to ask about cholesterol is, “What are my levels?” And the only way to know the answer is to have a blood test. Your Health Plan covers this preventive care service at 100%, in keeping with Affordable Care Act guidelines.
Generally, adults over 20 should have their cholesterol checked every five years, or more often if they have high blood pressure, are overweight, have a family history of high cholesterol or other risk factors. Ask your doctor what is right for you.
Having a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is ideal. Your total cholesterol is made up of HDL “good” cholesterol (which helps remove cholesterol from the body) and LDL “bad” cholesterol (which leads to plaque buildup), as well as triglycerides (a type of fat used for energy).
However, if you have high total cholesterol, more than 240 mg/dL, the excess cholesterol can collect in your blood vessels, forming plaque. Over time, a buildup of plaque can block an artery, doubling your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Take the Quiz
There is nothing good about cholesterol. True or False?
While too much cholesterol can increase your health risk, your body needs some cholesterol to protect nerves, make cell tissues, and produce certain hormones.
You only get high cholesterol from eating high-fat foods. True or False?
Cholesterol is found in saturated and trans fats, especially in foods obtained from animals (meat, dairy and eggs); but, in addition to food sources, your liver also makes cholesterol.
Headaches and weight gain are common symptoms of high cholesterol. True or False?
Unfortunately, there are no warning signs until a person has a heart attack or stroke.
The only way to treat high cholesterol is with medication. True or False?
Lifestyle changes (healthy eating, physical activity and weight loss) are often enough to lower cholesterol to a healthy range.
Smoking has no effect on cholesterol. True or False?
Smoking actually lowers HDL “good” cholesterol, whether you smoke yourself or you inhale secondhand smoke … and studies prove that HDL levels go up after a person quits smoking.
You have a healthy cholesterol IQ, if you answered False for all of the statements. Learn more about managing your cholesterol on Regence.com. Sign in, then click Wellness Tools, then Health, then Health Library, type Cholesterol and click Search. Regence’s Health Library includes information resources, videos, a symptom checker and a decision guide to help you manage your health.