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LifeMasters Provides Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Blood Cholesterol Level

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 105 million Americans have high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. September marks the start of National Cholesterol Month, and LifeMasters, a leading national provider of health improvement programs, offers simple tips to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol, a fat-like substance found in arteries, is produced by the body and absorbed from food. The liver also makes cholesterol. When there is too much LDL, or "bad" cholesterol in the body, the excess can stick to artery walls, causing narrowing of the vessel and decreasing blood flow. This process increases the risk of heart disease, including heart attack, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. High cholesterol is also a key risk factor for stroke. Fatty deposits caused by high cholesterol can block normal blood flow to the brain resulting in a stroke.

"Even though factors like genetics and age cannot be changed, individuals can make simple lifestyle modifications that can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risks of developing heart disease," said Mary Jane Osmick, M.D., vice president and medical director at LifeMasters. "Individuals need to be more aware of their blood cholesterol levels and learn more about the necessary lifestyle changes needed to maintain healthy cholesterol numbers. Every patient should know and track their cholesterol "numbers."

Dr. Osmick offers suggestions for battling high cholesterol:

LifeMasters Tips to Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels

1. Ditch the Fats: A prime contributor to high cholesterol is a fat-rich

diet. Foods with high amounts of saturated and trans fats, like fast

foods, egg yolks, liver and butter, only add to the problem. These

foods should be avoided and replaced with low-fat or low cholesterol

alternatives. Instead, add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet

since these foods are high in fiber. Also choose lean meats, low-fat

milk products and beans as good protein sources to help you curb your

appetite. All these changes can help reduce LDL cholesterol. If you do

eat at fast food restaurants, choose the lower fat items, and minimize

the times per week you eat out. Small changes make big differences!

2. Battle the Bulge: Being overweight is another cause of high

cholesterol. Losing weight not only decreases the level of LDL

cholesterol in the blood but it also increases the amount of "good"

(HDL) cholesterol that aids in preventing heart disease. Even modest

weight loss can result in big changes in your health. Weight loss can

be achieved by adjusting diet and increasing daily activity. The key is

calorie balance -- consistently take in fewer calories than you burn,

and over time you will lose weight.

3. Get Active: A sedentary lifestyle greatly intensifies high cholesterol.

Incorporating moderate activity into your life aids weight loss, while

increasing your level of good cholesterol. Integrating more activity

does not have to be an extreme adjustment and can include things you

enjoy, like a dance class, gardening or walking with a friend. Do not

think of what you do physically as exercise, just MOVE!

4. Kick the Smoking Habit: In addition to the many other dangers

associated with smoking, smoking has also been shown to weaken the

arterial walls, making them more susceptible to cholesterol build up.

It also decreases HDL levels and can cause blood clots. There are many

programs available to those who are interested in quitting. Talk with

your doctor and check the Internet to find help in quitting in your

community or state. If you smoke, this is the MOST important thing you

can do for your health!

5. Get Involved in Your Health: Knowing about your risks is the first step

in getting healthier. Once you are aware, take action to work toward a

healthier you. Find out about your family medical history and know what

genetic history you have related to high cholesterol and heart disease.

Bring this information to your doctor's attention so that you can work

together to form a program that works best for you.

About LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc.

LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc. is a leading provider of disease management programs and services that create health partnerships among individuals, their physicians and payors. Its mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain optimal health. The programs improve quality of care for people with chronic illnesses, reduce chronic-disease costs for payors and provide decision-support tools for physicians. LifeMasters offers programs for individuals with diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF), coronary artery disease (CAD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension and asthma (all of which are fully accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and URAC), cancer, metabolic syndrome and musculo-skeletal pain. LifeMasters' programs are holistically focused, support co-morbidities such as depression and facilitate lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and weight loss. LifeMasters provides services to over 650,000 people throughout the nation.

Founded in 1994 by a physician, LifeMasters works with some of the nation's leading health plans, employers, retirement systems and governmental organizations, including Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, and Presbyterian Health Services in New Mexico. More information about LifeMasters can be found at or by calling 1-800-777-1307.

Media Contact: Barbara Gideon


SOURCE LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc.
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