High cholesterol, especially in women, can cause heart disease or even early death.
Susan Hendricks reports in today's Health Minute why it's important to know your numbers.
Since her early twenties, Erin Peiffer has had a high overall cholesterol level usually over 200.
Although she was on medication, she never thought about her numbers until nine years ago.
"I was coughing up this pink frothy stuff."
Rushed to the hospital, Erin's doctor ordered open heart surgery.
"Because you've got a 99-percent blockage in your left main."
Millions of women are diagnosed with high cholesterol, but doctors say some don't seem to take it seriously enough -- and that's not good.
"For middle-aged women, that is, women ages 40 to 60, high cholesterol is the single most important risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and heart failure."
A simple blood test can reveal your cholesterol number. Keep it under 200.
If you have high risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure or family history, your doctor may want it lower.
After her surgery, Erin had her family members' cholesterol levels checked. She found two of her boys had high numbers and they're now on cholesterol medication.
Today, Erin takes lots of pills, eats right, and exercises to keep her heart healthy -- and, she knows her numbers.
For today's Health Minute, I'm Susan Hendricks.