Q:  Why do I need my cholesterol checked?   My son says it is important.

A:  Cholesterol tests measure the amount of fat in your blood. This fat is made up of both good and bad cholesterol.

A Lipid Panel will show your total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. These tests are to help find out your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

If you are already being treated for a cholesterol problem, they can help your doctor find out how well the medicine is working for you. You need to fast before your test. This means nothing to eat or drink, other than water, for eight hours before your test. You can take your medications with water the morning of the test, but do not eat.

Your risk for heart attacks and strokes are not only due to your cholesterol. Your blood pressure, whether you have diabetes, your age, sex, race and whether you smoke, are all important. If you think of your arteries as your garden hose, cholesterol can fill in the little cracks that develop over time and harden the hose, which then leads to a hose that does not work well.

If you have high blood pressure, it increases the damage to the inside of the hose (artery) and cholesterol and sugar particles can fill in these extra cracks more quickly than usual. This increases the hardening of the arteries, which increases brittleness and can cause pieces to break off. Pieces of cholesterol and calcium cause damage downstream (strokes or heart attacks). By keeping your sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure low, it allows the artery to stay soft and clean longer.

Dr. Rick Casey

Questions can be submitted directly to the providers, called in to Mercy Clinic at 417/876-5851 or submitted through their new App

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