Cholesterol is necessary for the formation of many hormones and as a structural component in the body’s cells. When cholesterol levels rise above that required by the body, the excess tends to be deposited in blood vessels—a condition called atherosclerosis. As a result, blood flow to organs and tissues is reduced which can lead to a variety of serious health issues including myocardial infarctions and cerebrovascular accidents. Risk factors for elevated cholesterol levels include a family history of high cholesterol, being overweight, inactivity, and eating a diet high in animal fat. Smoking, diabetes, and hypertension compound these risk factors.
The accepted first step to reducing this risk is having blood cholesterol levels checked every five years. In fact, as part of the Healthy People 2010 program, the national government established an objective to increase the number of adults who have had their cholesterol checked in the most recent five years. In 2005, slightly more than 30 percent of Utah women surveyed reported never having their cholesterol checked.
When compared to 2001 data, this represents a slight increase in the proportion of women who have never had their cholesterol checked. The comparison between 2001 and 2005 also shows a slightly lower proportion of women who have had their cholesterol checked within the last 5 years.
Another Healthy people 2010 objective is to reduce the number of adults who have high total cholesterol levels. Although fewer women reported having tests completed, the proportion of females being told their cholesterol was high increased in 2005 compared to 1995.
While fewer women are having their cholesterol checked, the proportion of women who have been tested and have been told their cholesterol is high is increasing. These results show that cholesterol continues to be a major health issue for women in Utah. It is strongly recommended that all women contact their health care provider to get their levels tested.
- Available on the National Institutes of Health—National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/index.html. Retrieved on October 26, 2006.
- Available at the Centers for Disease Control—Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System website. http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/index.htm. Retrieved on October 26, 2006.
- Available at the State of Utah – Department of Health—Women’s Health in Utah website. http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/other/wmnhlth/wmnhlth.html. Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2006.