Heart Health: High Cholesterol

Did you know... that almost 40% of Canadians have high cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease? By understanding how to control your cholesterol, you can reduce your risk and keep your heart strong.

Why is high cholesterol a risk factor?

Our liver naturally produces cholesterol, a waxy substance found in our blood and cells that helps our bodies function. More cholesterol comes from the food we eat. The 2 main types of cholesterol are:
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the “good” cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – the “bad” cholesterol
We need HDL cholesterol to clear arteries of the LDL cholesterol, which can clog artery walls with plaque. When plaque builds up, it can narrow and damage artery walls, preventing blood from flowing through your heart and body. Heart attacks and strokes can then result.

How do you know if you have high cholesterol?

A blood test will show the levels of the different blood fats (cholesterols and triglycerides) in your blood. Triglycerides are fat molecules used by the body for energy that could also raise your cholesterol if they are too high. If your LDL and triglycerides are high and your HDL is low, then you may be at risk of developing heart disease.


Who is at risk of developing high cholesterol?

Some common risk factors include:
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High-fat diet
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
These groups should get their cholesterol checked:
  • Men over age 40
  • Women over age 50 or post-menopausal
  • Anyone with a family history of heart disease or stroke, or any other risk factors
  • Men with a waist measurement of over 40 inches (102 cm), and women with a measurement of over 35 inches (88 cm), since waist circumference is an indicator of high cholesterol


Eat less fat & cholesterol

  • Don’t base every meal around meat and keep meat portions small
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat and trim off excess fat
  • Remove the skin from chicken and turkey
  • Use meat substitutes like lentils and beans
  • Eat fish at least twice a week
  • Don’t eat more than one egg yolk a week
  • Choose low-fat dairy products (skim milk, 1% or fat-free yogurt)
  • Read food labels
  • Use small amounts of vegetable oil (olive, canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut) and margarine
  • Prepare foods without adding fat. Roast, steam, broil and bake instead
  • When eating out, avoid breaded and fried foods


Eat more veggies, fruit, whole grains & legumes

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends the following servings for adults:
• 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruit per day (one serving = 1 cup raw vegetables; 1/2 cup cooked vegetables; 1/2 cup orange juice; 1 apple, banana or orange; 1/2 cup berries)
• 6-8 servings of grains such as oats, barley, brown rice, whole wheat per day (one serving = 1 slice whole grain bread; 1/2 cup oatmeal; 1/2 cup brown rice; 1/2 cup pasta; 1/2 cup legumes)
The Guide is a great resource to help you make healthier food choices. Visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php


Control your weight & be active

Controlling weight and cholesterol by going on a fad diet is not a healthy approach. It’s best to lose weight gradually by eating healthier & exercising regularly.
Regular exercise has many benefits. It helps:
  • Increase your “good” cholesterol
  • Control your blood pressure, weight, and blood glucose
  • Relieve stress
Start by doing 10 minutes of exercise a day and gradually work up to 30 minutes or more. Activities that work your leg muscles and pump oxygen are best (brisk walking, swimming, biking, running, aerobics). Check first with your doctor before starting an exercise program.


Don’t smoke

Smoking can lower the amount of “good” cholesterol in your blood, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The Pharmacist at Wal-Mart is very knowledgeable about strategies to help you quit smoking.
Ask the Pharmacist at Wal-Mart for the Did You Know... information sheet on quitting smoking.


Take medication as prescribed

Your doctor may prescribe medication if changing your diet and increasing your activity level are not enough to lower your cholesterol. It is important to take the medication as directed and report any side effects to your doctor. It is also important to continue with a low-fat diet and regular physical activity.


Heart-healthy books

For more information and recipes that promote healthy eating, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends the following books:
  • HeartSmart Nutrition – Shopping on the Run, by Ramona Josephson
  • Lighthearted Everyday Cooking, by Anne Lindsay
  • Simply HeartSmart Cooking, by Bonnie Stern with the Heart and Stroke Foundation
  • More HeartSmart Cooking with Bonnie Stern, by Bonnie Stern with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Bonnie Stern Cooking Schools Ltd.
  • HeartSmart Cooking for Family and Friends, by Bonnie Stern with the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart can answer your questions about how to manage your cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Talk to the Pharmacist at Walmart today for more information.

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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