Cholesterol Levels for Women Research Note
By Reader's Digest Editors
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Half of all women in the United States have high cholesterol. It’s one reason that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Yet many women and their doctors overlook the risk—downplaying or ignoring danger as numbers inched upward for women in one study. Before menopause, women have a built-in heart-protection advantage: Estrogen, which helps keep levels of helpful HDLs high and levels of heart-threatening LDLs and triglycerides low. But diabetes, overweight, inactivity and a high-fat diet can undo this shield. And all women lose their heart-health edge when estrogen levels fall in their 50s. As a result, levels of protective HDLs also drop and heart attack risk rises.Fast Facts:
- A woman’s total cholesterol may vary by up to 19% over the course of her monthly menstrual cycle.
- In women, high HDLs plus low levels of blood fats called triglycerides are even more important for a healthy heart than they are for men.
- Know your numbers. In one survey, 81% of women didn’t know their LDL or HDL levels and 84% didn’t know their triglyceride levels.
- Up to 64% of women aren’t physically active—and miss out on a great way to raise HDLs.
- About 58% of Caucasian women, 80% of African-American women, and 74% Hispanic-American women are overweight or obese—a risk for high LDLs.
Researchers Tie Cholesterol Levels in Women to Menstrual Cycle Phase -- AAFP News Now -- American Academy of Family Physicians
aafp.org — “Physicians testing a woman’s cholesterol levels may need to take into account the phase of her menstrual cycle, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. In a study of more than 250 women ages 18-44 years, researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that levels of HDL rose in concert with estrogen levels, peaking at the time of ovulation.” View full resource at aafp.org
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