The Heart of the Matter: Part 2

By: Renee' LaSalle
By: Renee' LaSalle

Reducing high levels of cholesterol is vital in the battle against poor health and heart disease.

Every 34 seconds, someone in the United States dies from heart disease. Mark Moore sees a lot of patients with heart disease in the Cardiology Department of the Internal Medicine Clinic.

"We found that most patients who have cardiovascular disease have elevated cholesterol levels," said Moore. "We need to get those down and we need to impact them and hit them hard."

Cholesterol comes in two different forms: high-density lipoprotein or "good cholesterol" and low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol."

It's the bad cholesterol that sticks to the walls of your arteries and could lead to heart disease.

Moore says once your total cholesterol is above 200, you need to have your bad cholesterol checked. When your bad cholesterol level is above 120, you're at a much greater risk for heart disease. The best way to lower that risk is to make a few changes.

"Your activity level, your diet, your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, whether or not you smoke, these are all risk factors that you need to modify. And by modifying those you can lower your risk and substantially increase your chances of surviving and doing well in the long run," Moore said.

Just three years ago, Deanna Cornish's total cholesterol was above 200. Cornish admits she was overweight and she has a family history of heart disease and diabetes. She took a look in the mirror and decided she had to do something.

"I was higher than I had ever been, when I gained 50 pounds. I had upped my cholesterol 50 points," said Cornish.

Her cardiologist said she had to make some lifestyle changes and get her cholesterol levels down. Cornish found inspiration in her husband and child.

"I had to realize that my health is not about me," she said. "Altogether, it affects everybody in my family."

Deanna spent a whole year working on her cholesterol, and then she decided to work or her weight. Now she says she has more energy and just feels better in general. But she says it wasn't easy. She says she had to make her health a priority.

"We all have the same 24 hours in a day," Cornish said. "And we all have life and we all have stress, and we all just have to try to put ourselves first."

Deanna says if you want to make lifestyle changes and don't think you can, you'll never get there until you try.

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