Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
Women Vets, Do You Know Your Cholesterol Scores?
About one out of every six Americans has high blood cholesterol, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This increases the risk of heart disease, which is the number-one killer of women in the United States.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. However, elevated amounts in the blood can lead to a buildup on artery walls, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. There are two types of cholesterol. HDL (good) cholesterol tends to be higher in women because it is associated with the female sex hormone estrogen. LDL (bad) cholesterol can increase with age and weight and is found in foods with saturated and trans fats.
The first step in managing your cholesterol is to know your cholesterol level. Your doctor can do a simple blood test that will show the amount of cholesterol in milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL) of blood. Engaging in physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and whole grains can help lower cholesterol levels. If your level is especially high, your doctor might prescribe medication to help lower it. You can keep track of your cholesterol levels with My HealtheVet, a free, online program to educate Veterans about health care topics.
Women are now the fastest growing subgroup of U.S. Veterans. The number of women Veterans is expected to increase dramatically in the next 10 years, and VA health care is in high demand by the women Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Department of Veterans Affairs understands the health care needs of women Veterans and is committed to meeting these needs. Women Veterans served and they deserve the best quality care.