University of Michigan doctor shares tips for managing cholesterol

DETROIT – Roughly 20% of Americans have high cholesterol, which left untreated, raises the risk of heart disease.

About a third of people with high cholesterol are completely unaware of the problem and the longer it goes untreated, the higher the risk of suffering a heart attack.

The effects of high cholesterol take years to cause damage. By far the biggest factors in having an increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol are diet and lifestyle, although genetics also play a role. It’s critical for everyone to know their cholesterol, but especially for people with a strong family history of high cholesterol or heart disease at an early age.

“So high, harmful types of cholesterol, like LDL cholesterol harm the body, because those cholesterol molecules go into the walls of our arteries,” said Dr. Eric Brandt. “And then over time, they build up plaques. Eventually, those plaques can block the flow in the artery, or they can lead to things like a heart attack.”

Brandt, the Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Michigan, said there are good ways to manage cholesterol.

“I like to say we treat with a combination of lifestyle and — when needed — medications,” Brandt said. “ Lifestyle is mostly driven by diet, eating a healthy whole food plant-based diet.”

Brant said some studies have shown that a whole food and plant-based diet can lower cholesterol by as much as 30% in a few weeks.

However, for some, high cholesterol can also run in families and can cause heart disease even earlier in life. That’s why it’s important to screen for it early and to manage what is in your control.

“I like to tell people, ‘We inherit two things, we inherit our genetics for our family, and our lifestyle,

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4 tips to live a more heart-healthy lifestyle

(BPT) – In honor of American Heart Month this February, you can make positive changes to your well-being by evaluating how your everyday lifestyle affects your heart health. To get started, take steps to understand your risk, then consider making healthier choices to help lower your chances of heart disease.

Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner shares a few of her tips to help you live a heart-healthy lifestyle, starting with your routine wellness visits.

1. Know your risk

Getting regular health screenings as part of your annual exam is crucial to understanding your risk for heart disease. By consulting with your primary healthcare provider on a regular basis, you can ask questions and get advice on practical steps you could take to improve your well-being.

“Regular wellness visits are a crucial part of staying healthier,” Blatner advises. “And it’s always recommended to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine or nutrition program.”

2. Stay active

Try to fit 30-60 minutes of physical activity into your day, which can include walking, gardening or household chores as well as swimming, dancing, playing a sport or taking a fitness class. Various aerobic activities that get your heart rate up, strength exercises to build muscle, plus yoga or stretching for flexibility are usually a good mix.

Make it easier to exercise enough each day by breaking up activity into smaller chunks rather than doing it all at once.

3. Reduce stress

The good news is that many of the activities you can do to keep physically active have the added benefit of reducing your stress levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can improve your mood, reduce tension and help you focus throughout your day.

Apart from exercise, you can try meditation, breathing exercises and any

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