National Cholesterol Education Month seeks to inform the public about the dangers of high cholesterol and its connection with the leading cause of death around the globe, heart disease. High cholesterol is one of the most common and commonly misunderstood health risks in America. It can be caused by an unhealthy diet and exacerbated by smoking and a lack of exercise and since it is symptomless it can be hard to diagnose. It is a serious condition that affects nearly 102 million Americans over the age of 20.
National Cholesterol Education Month - History
The First Cholesterol-Lowering Medication Is Approved
Known as a statin, Mevacor, by U.S. drug company Merck, was the first in what would be a very crowded field of cholesterol medications.
A Nobel Prize for a New Discovery
Konrad Bloch and Feodor Lynen were the first to discover a key part of cholesterol synthesis and won the Nobel Prize for it.
High LDL Linked to Heart Attacks
Scientist John Gorman first found the link between low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and heart disease.
Discovery of Cholesterol's Link to Plaque
German chemist, Adolf Windaus first showed that cholesterol was present in arterial plaque.
Five Facts About Cholesterol
1. High cholesterol has no symptoms making it difficult to diagnose.
2. More than 35 million Americans have cholesterol high enough to put them at risk for heart disease
3. The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests people over 20 years old get their cholesterol checked every five years.
4. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a diet low in fat and high in fiber, and not smoking can help lower cholesterol.
5. Most people don't need added cholesterol from their diet, their bodies make enough on their own.
Why National Cholesterol Education Month is Important
A. It shines a light on a silent condition
High cholesterol has no symptoms itself, but it can lead to blockages of the arteries resulting in heart disease. National Cholesterol Education Month raises awareness about this potentially dangerous condition.
B. It urges people to get checked
A simple blood test can tell you if your cholesterol is high and if you're in danger of heart disease. Since there are no symptoms for high cholesterol, adults over the age of 20 are encouraged to get this test once every five years.
C. It galvanizes people to make healthier choices
High cholesterol can often be caused by one's lifestyle habits. Poor diet, a lack of exercise, and other factors like smoking can cause or exacerbate the condition. Luckily, improving one's lifestyle choices can also help lower cholesterol and National Cholesterol Education Month teaches people just how to do that.