Tuesday, February 24, 2009

cholesterol & depression

As a contract employee working for the Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP), I know the importance of looking after your total health. Diagnosed with high cholesterol, I was quite surprised. It happens more often in women than previously thought. We are a group that has been left out of the research data, driven, primarily, by pharmaceutical companies.

As I surfed around, looking for information, I found a great site that gives gender-specific information on cholesterol. This is one of the contributing factors to ameliorating high risk for stroke and other cardiovascular issues. For those of us over age 50, we must recognize risks. It is estimated that 40% of Canadian have high cholesterol. For women with diabetes we have a higher risk than men (Lee, 2000). There is a relationship between depression and cardiovascular disease, too (Mussleman, 1998). I suffered from both. A simple blood test identified my high cholesterol.

There are two measures of cholesterol: good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol are present in our blood streams. Cholesterol (fats) in your blood come from the food you eat (20%) and your body produces the rest (80%). Your body needs it to function. If you have too much then plaque builds up and prevents to flow of blood through your body, robbing cells of nutrients. If arteries become narrow or blocked, your heart has to pump too hard and chest pain (angina: too little oxygen) or a heart attack (myocardial infarction) can ensue. If a clot breaks off and blocks the flow of blood to part of your brain you can have a stroke.

If your cholesterol is high you have some options:
  • change your eating habits
  • exercise more frequently: strength, fitness, flexibility
  • start, switch or increase your medications
Your doctor may have a chart to compare the ratio to compare good to bad cholesterol to assess your risk.

Questions you doctor needs to answer about current treatment
  • If I’m not at target and am already on prescription medication, will you:
  • If I’m not at target and am not already on prescription medication, should I be taking medication?
  • Am I exercising enough?
  • Am I eating the right quantities, of the right foods, at the right time?
Ask for help from a nutritionist for more information on healthy eating habits.
Visit the Public Health Agency of Canada for information on physical activity guides.

It is only by preventing chronic diseases that we will eliminate the ALC patients blocking access to hospital beds. You can prevent or ameliorate chronic health issues (obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancers) by eating balanced meals, exercising regularly, reducing stress, building strong muscles, by living an active life.

If you are going for a cholesterol test ask...
  • When do I take my test?
  • Do I need to fast?
  • Do I need an appointment?
  • When and how will I get my results?
  • Will you phone me?
Lee, et al. (2000). Impact of diabetes on coronary artery diesease in women and men
Musselman, DL, Evans, DL, Nemeroff, (1998). The relationship of depression to cardiovascular disease: diagnosis, biology and treatment - Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998

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