Ah, September. The time of cool, crisp weather (sometimes) and back-to-school (did you hear the collective Mom sigh?) Oh, and National Cholesterol Education Month.
Who knew there was a National Cholesterol Education Month?
Not me, and I, um, write about cholesterol. Weekly.
As a marketing professional, this is distressing. As a writer, I can’t believe it took me until September 29th to pen a post about September being National Cholesterol Education Month.
And no, it doesn’t get any ‘ringier’ the more I type “National Cholesterol Education Month.”
How about this: NCEM.
Nope. Not catchy either.
OK, so I give up on making National Cholesterol Education Month sound tantalizing. So let’s get on with what it is.
Way back in November 1985, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) – a division of the National Institute of Health – launched the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). The stated goal of the program is to “raise awareness and understanding about high blood cholesterol as a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and the benefits of lowering cholesterol levels as a means of preventing CHD.”
And while big advances have been made in reducing cholesterol and heart disease since the 1980s, the NCEP is a government program, and is, um, not well marketed. To the public at least.
The crazy thing is: there is some fantastic information on the National Cholesterol Education Program website – it’s just buried in an extraordinarily difficult to navigate interface. If you manage to realize that ‘Patients/General Public‘ is the right link to click — which it is, there’s a ton of great info buried in this page — you’re left to wonder where to go next to actually find the information. Because, um, clicking the link on the title of what you’d like to open doesn’t work (the trick is to click ‘PDF’ next to it).
So in an effort to actually ‘educate’ – and by that I mean to provide links that are easy to open so you can actually find out more about cholesterol, here are links to the good info buried on the NCEP site:
- Online Calculator: 10 Year Risk of Having a Heart Attack (you’ll need to have your cholesterol numbers and blood pressure results handy).
- What You Need To Know About High Blood Cholesterol – a PDF of a brochure that’s a good primer / overview about high cholesterol.
- High Blood Cholesterol – What You Need To Know – this PDF provides a far more detailed – yet easy to understand – explanation of cholesterol and heart disease risk; one of the best explanations of how to calculate heart disease risk – and therefore what kind of treatment program is recommended – that I’ve seen.
The NCEP wants you to know it’s important to get your cholesterol checked to reduce the risk of heart disease – still the #1 killer in the US. Who should get their cholesterol checked and how often?
“The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.”
And if you’re like me, you need your cholesterol checked far more frequently than every 5 years. For me, it’s annual. The recommendation is a more frequent cholesterol check (possibly annually) if:
- your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher,
- you are a man older than age 45 or a woman older than age 50,
- your HDL cholesterol is lower than 40 mg/dL,
- and/or you have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
As it’s September (well, for a few more hours) and September is National Consumer Education Month (nope, still not catchy), please make an appointment to get your cholesterol checked. I’m due for my annual check in November. How about you?