What is the number one killer of all Americans? Heart disease. But Blacks have a 30 percent greater chance of dying from heart disease than whites. Heart diseases can include anything from coronary heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, chest pain (also called “angina“), and rheumatic heart disease. Here’s what you need to know in order to save your life.
Know your numbers
Your cholesterol numbers can tell you much about your heart health. Because blacks have a 30 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease, it is critical to understand cholesterol readings. So, here’s a quick rundown.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is basically fat that runs through your bloodstream. There are two different types of cholesterol; the good and the bad.
* The good – High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is good cholesterol because it pushes fat through the body and on to the liver. You want to have lots of good cholesterol.
* The bad – Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is bad cholesterol because this kind of fat is the kind that can build up within the walls of your arteries, making it more difficult for your heart to work. You want to keep bad cholesterol at a minimum.
What levels of each are recommended?
The goal is to keep overall cholesterol level under 200. However, the breakout should be as follows:
HDL (good cholesterol) – 40-50 for men; 50-60 for women. If your doctor tells you your HDL is higher, that’s a good thing!
LDL (bad cholesterol) – less than 100 is very good; 130-159 is borderline; above 160 is high.
NOTE: While an overall cholesterol level of 200 is the goal, some people have such high HDL (good cholesterol) levels resulting from good eating habits that their overall level may be above 200. So, it is important to understand what portion of your overall cholesterol reading represents HDL and what portion represents LDL. This makes a HUGE difference.
You may not be a math whiz, but it is extremely important to know these numbers. It could save your life!