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About two-thirds of adults say they have had their cholesterol checked within the last five years, according to the CDC. However, about 33.5% of American adults are living with high cholesterol. September is National Cholesterol Education Month and primary care physician Dr. Gabriele DeMori about what patients and their kids can do to keep themselves healthy. 

1) How can a person tell if they have high cholesterol? 

Cholesterol is a fat that comes from the blood. The liver produces fat, but it can also come from foods like meat, fish, and dairy. The only accurate way to tell if a patient's cholesterol is high is to have it checked. Dr. DeMori says, "After turning 20 years old, cholesterol levels need checking as a baseline measurement. Along with maintaining overall health, testing is necessary if there is a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol."

2) How often should someone get it checked? 

Dr. DeMori says, "The American Heart Association recommends that all adults over the age of 20 have their cholesterol checked every 4-6 years. After age 40, along with testing, patients can use the ASCVD risk quiz to estimate the risk of disease or stroke for the following ten years." This exam takes into factor a patient's gender, age, blood pressure, family history, along with other things to make the patient and doctor aware of dangers for the future and start an early intervention if necessary. 

3) Is it possible for children to experience high cholesterol?

Children can have high cholesterol. "The majority of the time elevated cholesterol levels in children and teens comes from parent or family member, diet, and obesity," says Dr. DeMori. If a patient has high cholesterol, it may be in their best interest to get their children tested. The earlier kids and teens develop it, the higher risk they are at for getting heart disease later in life.

4)  What can a patient do to lower their cholesterol?

Dr. DeMori states, "The best way to lower cholesterol is to reduce one's intake of saturated fats which are in most animal products. Eliminating trans fats is a helpful way to cut back. Also, one can increase their intake of food rich in omega-three fatty acids which are in fish and nuts."

Starting to exercise, quit smoking, and losing some weight increases HDL or "good cholesterol" levels. If all these methods are not enough, then one might need medication, explains Dr. DeMori. 

5) What are the effects of having consistently high cholesterol over a long period? 

Having unchecked high cholesterol for a long time produces fatty deposits in the blood vessels. Dr. DeMori describes, "Over time, these grow and cause blockages in the blood vessels. Also, one of these deposits can break off and potentially cause a heart attack or a stroke."

Dr. DeMori sees patients in Gainesville 7 AM-5 PM Monday through Friday. Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. DeMori today!