Press Release

September 8, 2011


State Health Department Encourages Testing for High Cholesterol, Which Can Lead to the Number One Cause of Death

Roughly 1 in 6 Americans has high cholesterol 

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging people to get their blood cholesterol checked during September, National Cholesterol Education Month, and take steps to lower it if it is high. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, which is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Each year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks, and about a half million people die from heart disease according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

“Cholesterol builds up slowly, over time, and many people may not be aware their total cholesterol level is rising, putting them at risk for heart disease,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “I always tell people to get their cholesterol levels checked at least every five years and to make sure their LDLs – “L” for lousy – are low, and HDLs – “H” for healthy - are up. Don’t wait, get your cholesterol checked during National Cholesterol Education Month.”

According to studies by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, for every one percent a person lowers their total blood cholesterol, they can reduce their risk of a heart attack by two percent.

Lowering cholesterol:

  • Physical Activity - 30 minutes of activity most if not all days of the week is recommended. Activity can include walking, riding a bicycle, yard work or golfing.

  • Lose Weight – People who are overweight can have high total cholesterol levels and low levels of protective HDL cholesterol. Limiting your caloric intake and losing excess weight contributes greatly to reducing blood cholesterol.

  • Eat Smart – Avoid fatty foods, particularly those with saturated fats. No more than 30 percent of total daily calories should come from fat. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as whole wheat bread.

For some people, high cholesterol levels may continue despite losing weight, eating healthy and exercising. These people should check with a health care provider who may recommend using medication.

This September, ask your health care provider about a simple blood test to check your cholesterol.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has two programs designed to lower heart disease and cholesterol.

  1. The WISEWOMAN (Well -Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) program is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and aims to lower heart disease and other chronic disease risk factors through screening and lifestyle classes. The four weekly lifestyle classes teach women how to eat healthy, increase physical activity, problem solve, set goals, and also teaches them about the importance of a support system. For more information, call the Women’s Health-Line: Toll-free: 888-522-1282, TTY: 800-547-0466.

  2. The Illinois Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is also a national program funded by the CDC with the following priorities:
    • Increase control of high blood pressure
    • Increase control of high cholesterol
    • Increase knowledge of signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke and the importance of calling 911
    • Improve emergency response
    • Improve quality of heart disease and stroke care
    • Eliminate disparities in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, geography, or socioeconomic status

For more information, call 217-782-3300, TTY: 800-547-0466 or log onto

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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