National Cholesterol Education Month: Beware the “Silent Killer”

  • September 19, 2023

National Cholesterol Education Month: Beware the “Silent Killer”


High blood cholesterol typically presents no signs or symptoms in the body but can lead to serious health conditions and issues such as stroke and heart attacks. This silent threat has prompted National Cholesterol Education Month, a time to focus on knowing more about cholesterol and the importance of regular screenings.


Whittier’s Health Care Team is always available to schedule patients for these potentially life-saving screenings. The Center is a strong believer and advocate for accessible healthcare; as such patients or community members who are unable to visit on-site at our Tremont Street, Roxbury address can be screened via our Mobile Health Van which makes several rounds in the community and offers various screenings and services.


Throughout the month of September, the Whittier Mobile Health Van will be at the Epiphany School every Wednesday, Higginson-Lewis every Tuesday, and the Immigrant Families Service Institute on Sept. 29th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


But before you schedule your next screening, let’s learn more about cholesterol and its types. Blood cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by the liver and is essential to good health, according to the CDC. Healthy amounts of cholesterol are important for your body to make hormones and digest fatty foods.


In order for the body to produce necessary amounts of life-sustaining cholesterol, doctors and healthcare professionals recommend consuming small amounts of foods that contain high levels of cholesterol, like eggs, seafood, poultry, dairy products, and meat.


There are two types of cholesterol— low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also referred to as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in arteries that could result in heart disease or stroke, according to the CDC, while high levels of HDL cholesterol can lower risk of the above-mentioned health issues.


About 25 million people   in the United States have high cholesterol, the CDC reports. However, there are several risk factors for high cholesterol— such as age, gender, and family health history— that are out of an individual’s control.


For example, the group of people most susceptible of having high levels of LDL cholesterol are Asian Americans, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). While African Americans are more likely than any other group to have high levels of HDL cholesterol, they are at higher risk for high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes that can override the benefit of high HDL levels, NIH reports.


Even though these predisposed factors cannot be controlled, actions such as prioritizing a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to manage and maintain cholesterol levels. Exercise, (in particular, cardio workouts) and avoiding food with high levels of saturated fat, are beneficial to one’s overall health and just as important as going to your primary care physician for routine screenings.


“Everyone can benefit from knowing their cholesterol levels and doing what they can to prevent or reduce those numbers,” said Dr. Stephen Wright, Medical Director at Whittier Street Health Center. “We strongly encourage our patients to schedule regular cholesterol screenings, whether at the Center or through our Mobile Health Van.”


Whittier Street Health Center’s Adult and Pediatric teams provide culturally competent healthcare that prioritizes the needs of each patient. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 617-858-2421.




A note about Whittier and COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in our area, we ask all clients and patients to call ahead before coming to any of our sites. We are working to take care of most clients/patients via phone/video encounter so we can meet your ongoing healthcare needs. This is for your safety and so we can provide the highest quality of care to you while following CDC guidance for COVID-19. Please call 617-427-1000 for any questions or concerns.

Whittier will provide COVID-19 testing from 10 am to 4 pm on Monday to Friday. Following CDC guidance, we recommend testing if you have a fever AND one of the following three symptoms: cough OR shortness of breath OR sore throat. Please bring your picture identification and your insurance card (if you have insurance).