Like breathing and blinking, cholesterol is one of those things you probably don’t think about…until something goes wrong. Moreover, this can be dangerous because having a high level of cholesterol can be a silent killer, affecting your body in ways you may have never imagined.
If your physician has informed you that your cholesterol levels are too high, there is no need to panic. When it is detected early, before causing major damage, it can usually be managed. Even so, it is important to find out if health insurance can cover cholesterol management.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a natural substance present in most foods that come from animals, such as cheese, beef, pork, and milk. In addition, your own body produces cholesterol, mainly in the liver, and it helps your body to operate the way it should.
To the medical community, cholesterol resembles fatty, gooey wax when they see it in arteries or other parts of your body. Only a blood test can determine your cholesterol level.
The chief job of the cholesterol in your body is to aid in the digestion of fat by helping your body to create the bile that is needed to break it down. It also assists in manufacturing vitamin D and certain hormones.
How can cholesterol be managed?
Comedian Dave Barry once quipped that science has proven it is not possible for your body to absorb the cholesterol you get off of someone else’s plate. In other words, controlling the amount of cholesterol you get from the foods you eat every day is key. However, sometimes this is easier said than done.
Of course, cholesterol is required for a healthy body. For this reason, there are terms such as good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. A small amount is needed for hormone and bile production, which is beneficial. The rest is considered excess and can be unhealthy for your arteries and heart.
Learning how to get the good types of cholesterol and avoiding the bad types is essential in managing the ever-critical levels in your body. LDL, or low density lipoproteins, is the kind you don’t want, as too much can affect your arteries by generating excess plaque that creates blockages and restricts blood flow to your heart.
There are also high density lipoproteins, referred to as HDLs or good cholesterol, and they are designed to push out the bad cholesterol. You need as much of these as possible.
The third type you may have heard of, named triglycerides, is located in your cells. They accompany LDLs and are partially responsible for what we see as fat or excess weight.
The best way to manage your cholesterol levels is to watch your diet. You can limit the amount of cholesterol you get from outside sources by decreasing how much sugar and extra calories you consume and by trying to eliminate saturated fat altogether. It is wise to choose foods that are good for your heart, such as oatmeal, vegetables, and certain types of fish.
Exercising and losing weight may also help to lower your cholesterol level. In addition, if you smoke cigarettes, this can affect your good and bad cholesterol levels so you should make a concerted effort to end this habit as well.
Nevertheless, some people suffer from high cholesterol even when they strictly monitor the foods they eat. For these people, genetics and family history play a big role in their cholesterol levels. You might find it most often in families in which heart disease is a common and widespread issue throughout many members and generations.
As a rule, doctors prefer that your cholesterol level be below 200. When it is above 200, you may be warned that you are at risk for future troubles such as hypertension. If it rises to more than 240, this is considered to be high and dangerous enough to cause serious heart disease, a heart attack, or stroke.
If you have changed your diet and lifestyle or have a family predisposition for cardiac disease and your cholesterol levels are high, your physician may prescribe one of several medications currently available that can help your body eliminate cholesterol buildup in your blood.
Do health insurance plans cover cholesterol management?
As you may have noticed, health insurance is changing. Insurance providers are taking notice that covering preventative measures now can pre-empt future health problems.
Cholesterol tests and medications are typically covered by most insurance plans. In addition, some health insurance companies now also cover healthy lifestyle initiatives, such as gym or health club memberships, which you can use to help lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels. You should check with your health insurance representative to find out exactly what your individual plan does or does not cover.