An important part of any physical or wellness visit is getting your cholesterol levels checked. Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that is necessary for your body to make hormones and digest fats from the food you eat, found in many proteins. However, elevated levels of cholesterol can increase your risk for stroke, heart disease and heart attacks and does not have outward symptoms. Because you won’t be able to tell on your own if you have high cholesterol levels, it is critical to have it checked regularly at your local walk-in urgent care center. 

When Should I Start Having My Cholesterol Checked?

High cholesterol can start becoming a problem in childhood, with over 1 in 5 adolescents showing an unhealthy reading. It becomes more of a problem as you age, with nearly 100 million adults in the United States testing for high levels. In order to stay healthy and catch problems before they escalate, you should have your cholesterol checked once before puberty, ideally between the ages of 9 and 11, once after puberty is complete, commonly between 17 and 21, and every five years throughout your adult life. If you have a family of heart disease, stroke or diabetes, your physician may recommend more routine screenings and closer monitoring. 

What Are My Risk Factors for High Cholesterol?

There are many common risk factors that can affect the possibility of you or a member of your family developing high cholesterol, including:

  • Family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attacks or stroke. This can be due to genetics and shared lifestyle habits. Genetics can also lead to a condition forming that causes high levels of bad cholesterol at a young age, which can affect your health growing up.  
  • Aging. Your body may not be able to process cholesterol as easily as it used to.
  • Diabetes. Patients with Type 2 diabetes are at risk of having heightened levels of bad cholesterol and lowered levels of “good cholesterol,” increasing risk of heart disease. 
  • Unhealthy habits that lead to obesity or being overweight. Eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough exercise can lead to an increase in your levels. 

How Do I Avoid High Cholesterol?

If you are concerned about your risk for developing high cholesterol, speak to your doctor about certain lifestyle changes you can make. These include:

  • Healthier diet with foods that are high in fiber and unsaturated fats, including fruits, vegetables and nuts. You should limit foods that are high in trans or saturated fats, sugars and sodium like chips and cookies. 
  • Not smoking. In addition to damage to your lungs, smoking can cause harm to your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart and lung disease as well as stroke. Visit your physician to go over ways to quit smoking. 
  • Get exercise. Getting at least 3 hours of moderate exercise a week can help you stay healthy. This can range from going to the gym, taking a class or just going for a walk or bike ride after work. 

Cholesterol Screening in Norwalk, CT

If you have not had your cholesterol checked in some time and want to know your levels, visit AFC Urgent Care Norwalk for a wellness check today! Our center is open seven days a week and accepts walk-in patients. Most major insurance carriers are accepted. For questions about checkups and cholesterol screening, please call (203) 845-9100.