Manage Cholesterol to Prevent Stroke

May 15, 2013 Annie Sanford, RN, BSN

Next time you think about burgers and fries, think about this: these and some other foods are high in saturated fat and can cause arteries to become blocked through the gradual build-up of cholesterol, also known as plaque.

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy fat (lipid) that is required for the body to form cell membranes, some hormones and vitamin D. However, excess cholesterol or frequent consumption of saturated and trans fats can cause trouble. Cholesterol is made within the body and can also be ingested in some foods, such as eggs, meats and dairy products.

Cholesterol or plaque build-up in the arteries can block normal blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. Approximately 1 in 4 Americans have elevated cholesterol levels, with 63% of those individuals unaware of their status. 

Here are some facts you should remember to help prevent stroke:

  • Know your numbers:  It is important to know your cholesterol levels as they are a key indicator of stroke risk.  There are two types of cholesterol to focus on: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).  A simple way to remember the difference between these two:
    • H is happy and you want it to be high
    • L is lousy and you want it to be low
  • Eat healthy:  Maintain a healthy cholesterol level by eating a diet low in saturated fat and incorporating exercise into your routine. This American Heart Association flyer is a great tool when considering fats and your lifestyle – what changes should you make?

  • Talk to your provider:  Ask your provider how you can improve any numbers on your cholesterol tests that are not in normal range. 

To laern more about your risk for stroke, click here and use the “Check your health” assessment tool or take this quick, five-minute stroke risk assessment test. You can also call the Swedish Stroke Program at 206-320-3200 for more information.

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