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Heart Health and National Wear Red Day®

Published on February 5, 2013 by Virginia Women's Center

Across the country, medical institutions, companies and individuals participated in National Wear Red Day® on February 1, 2013. The staff and physicians at Virginia Women’s Center were proud to join this effort by donning red and helping spread awareness about heart disease in women. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. While it is important to spread awareness, it is also important to help educate our friends, families and loved ones. Cholesterol and blood pressure are just two of the important measures of heart health. Keep reading to learn more about what these numbers mean.

High blood cholesterol can signal a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. To have your cholesterol checked, your health care provider will obtain a blood sample. A “lipoprotein profile” is a test run on your blood sample that gives information about your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

LDL cholesterol stands for low-density lipoprotein and is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it is the main carrier of harmful cholesterol in your blood. The higher one’s level of LDL cholesterol, the higher risk one has of heart disease and stroke.

HDL cholesterol stands for high-density lipoprotein and is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol seem to lower one’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Some recommendations to help raise one’s HDL cholesterol are to quit smoking, lose excess weight and become more active.

Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They come from food and are produced by your body; they serve as a major energy source. Many people who have heart disease or diabetes have high fasting triglyceride levels.

Blood pressure is recorded as a ratio of two numbers. Systolic is the name for the top number and it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. Diastolic is the name for the bottom number and it measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Managing your blood pressure can result in a lower risk of heart attack and blood vessel diseases, stroke and kidney disease.

For more information about other numbers to track for heart health as well as tips for living a heart-healthy lifestyle, visit the Web site of the American Heart Association.