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Cholesterol: Do You Know Your Number?

    It’s an embarrassing state of affairs: According to a recent study, we women are more than twice as likely to know how much we weighed in high school (yep, I do) as they are to know their current overall cholesterol number. (Mine’s not bad, but I don’t remember what it is.) Do you know yours? Only half of women have had their cholesterol tested in the past year, according to the results of a nationwide survey.
    In a telephone pulse of 524 women, conducted for the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR), 79 percent of the women knew how much they weighed in high school, but less than one-third knew their current cholesterol number. Of the women who had had a recent cholesterol test, only 57 percent could actually recall their cholesterol number.
    A majority of the women surveyed (63 percent) said they were concerned that high cholesterol will be a health issue during their lifetime and almost 60 percent of women said they were actively trying to manage their cholesterol, yet only 32 percent knew their cholesterol number.
Most women recognize the health risks of having high cholesterol. Nearly nine out of 10 women surveyed (88 percent) identified its link to hardening of the arteries and heart disease, and almost as many women (85 percent) know high cholesterol can lead to stroke.
    As for ways to help control cholesterol, nearly all the women (96 percent) understood that exercise can play a part in fighting high cholesterol, with just about as many women knowing that eating more fruits and veggies (95 percent) and eating foods low in fat (94 percent) can also contribute to better heart health. In addition, 94 percent of the women knew that medicines called statins can help lower cholesterol if diet and exercise are not effective.
    “Clearly, strides have been made in educating women on the risks of high cholesterol, but the disconnect between awareness and action needs to be addressed,” says Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the SWHR. “Knowing your cholesterol number is the first step in controlling cholesterol.”