As part of the routine health screening that RSC does for all patients planning pregnancy, we order a fasting cholesterol panel for any patient over 40. We can also run this panel for you if you have a family history of cholesterol or have any risk factors (obesity, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or complicating factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, diabetes).
The following articles will help give you an overview of cholesterol disease and the steps we often take prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy. They were written by other doctors and nurses but we agree with what they say.
Steps to cholesterol management in pregnancy
Since pregnancy requires you to consume more calories and avoid certain foods, it is important to seek the advice of a nutrition expert before trying to treat your high cholesterol through your diet.
Introduce more fiber into your diet. Both soluble and insoluble fiber have been shown to help reduce cholesterol in most patients and can be found in foods that are appropriate for a pregnant woman’s diet, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as oatmeal.
Check with your doctor whether a reduction in the amount of fat you eat is advisable during your pregnancy. Your nutritionist may advise you to consume a certain amount of fat each day for the neurological health of your baby but might instruct you to seek out healthier sources for it such as the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil or avocados.
Discuss exercise options with your doctor. Women who stay active early in pregnancy may have lower cholesterol than those who take it easy, new research suggests. If you have been exercising consistently before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue exercising throughout most of your pregnancy. However, your doctor may advise you against engaging in high-impact aerobics, which may put too much stress on your heart.
Try to workout on low-impact cardio machines such as elliptical treadmills and stationary bikes. These machines allow you to increase your heart rate to an acceptable level without putting additional strain on your joints or back. Remember that physical activity helps lower cholesterol levels whether it involves everyday activities like vacuuming, stair climbing, lawn mowing or gardening or a structured exercise routine. Exercise helps lower cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) in your blood while reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol (the bad, artery-clogging kind).
Treat yourself to lots of water after exercising and throughout the day. By avoiding sugary or caffeinated beverages, you can keep your triglycerides down during pregnancy–an important factor in maintaining a low cholesterol level.
Accept that most doctors do not worry too much about high cholesterol in pregnant women. Most do not believe that nine months of untreated high cholesterol presents a high risk to the overall health of their pregnant patients.
In brief, pregnant women are advised to reduce cholesterol side effects by eating healthy, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco smoking, including second-hand smoke.
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