How Often Should I Get A Cholesterol Test
When and how often you should get a cholesterol test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger::
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older::
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
Measures Of Serum Cholesterol
Measures for total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol were collected from subjects of the FHS Original Cohort using standard laboratory procedures . Fasting measures for total cholesterol were collected during twenty clinical examinations and measures of HDL cholesterol were collected during ten clinical examinations . The ratio of total: HDL cholesterol was calculated by dividing the measure of total cholesterol by the measure of HDL cholesterol. The distributions for total: HDL ratios were highly right skewed and were normalized by log transformation. Serum LDL cholesterol was directly measured in the FHS during three clinical examinations . The Friedewald equation can be used to estimate LDL cholesterol levels based on total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels . This equation, however, should not be used when triglyceride levels are greater than 400 mg/dL and underestimates LDL cholesterol levels when triglyceride levels exceed 200 mg/dL . Triglyceride levels were measured during nine clinical examinations , but for any given clinical examination over 25 percent of subjects included in the final sample did not have a recorded triglyceride measure. Furthermore, over 13 percent of subjects in each clinical examination had triglyceride levels over 200 mg/dL. In light of these limitations, LDL cholesterol levels were not included in this study.
What Are Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol circulating in the blood is carried by special particles called lipoproteins. The two major cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins are low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein :
- LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because too much of it can build up in your arteries and form plaques, which increases the risk of heart disease .
- HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and excreted.
Since your total cholesterol is a combination of your LDL cholesterol and your HDL cholesterol, ideally you want to keep your LDL levels low and your HDL levels high. There are many factors that can influence your cholesterol, including, diet, exercise, weight, genetics, and other health conditions.
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Over The Age Of 20 Time To Talk Cholesterol Levels Heres Why
People say what you don’t know won’t hurt you. That might be true for little white lies, but it’s not the case when it comes to your cholesterol. It’s an easy number to ignore there are no symptoms or tell-tale signs for high cholesterol. But if you don’t take action to manage elevated cholesterol levels, you could increase your risk for stroke or heart disease.
We know what you’re thinking isn’t cholesterol only a concern later in life? Yes and no. Sure, your chances of having higher cholesterol increase with age, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have healthy cholesterol levels now. In fact, about 45% of women age 20 and older have high cholesterol. Yet most women have no idea what their levels are or how dangerous high cholesterol can be.
To help make sure you’re in the know, we’ve outlined the basics of healthy cholesterol levels:
Is There A Connection Between Aging And Increased Cholesterol
By Angie Kunnath 9 am on December 25, 2019
Certain aspects of life can increase a seniors cholesterol levels, such as gender, weight, and age. While you can influence what your aging loved one eats and how active he or she remains in the senior years, theres no way to stop the aging process. Therefore, you need to find natural ways to lower your loved ones cholesterol and reduce his or her risk of physical, emotional, and mental disorders.
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Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.
So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
Cholesterol Trajectories Stratified According To Longevity
An explanation for the observed decline in total cholesterol levels, increase in HDL cholesterol levels and decline in total: HDL cholesterol ratio is that subjects with healthy cholesterol levels are more likely to reach very old age. The majority of subjects included in the final sample lived beyond 80 years of age , which included 133 subjects who lived past 90 years of age. Compared to subjects who did not live beyond 80 years of age, subjects who were 80 years of age or older were more likely to be female , n = 64 , Ï2 = 11.1, p< 0.01), and less likely to have been a smoker during midlife , n = 189 , Ï2 = 37.8, p< 0.01) and late life , n = 96 , Ï2 = 30.7, p< 0.01).
Since there were statistically significant differences in the characteristics of the final sample according to longevity, a subsequent analysis was conducted in which the trajectories of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and total: HDL cholesterol were stratified according to longevity . These models adjusted for the effects of age, educational attainment, smoking, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood sugar, BMI, restricted diet, and use of cholesterol-lowering medications.
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How To Maintain Your Cholesterol Levels After 50
Our liver creates an important wax-like substance known as cholesterol. Our bodies need this substance to build the structure of cell membranes and make hormones like testosterone and estrogen. You can also find this substance in several foods that you eat, such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and high-fat dairy products.
However, a high cholesterol level can increase the risk of heart diseases like heart attack and stroke at any age. These risks increase with age. Hence, adults need to take extra care to reduce their cholesterol buildup.
Healthy cholesterol levels for seniors are below 200 mg/dl , including an HDL cholesterol level of more than 40 mg/dl for men, 50mg/dl for women, and an LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dl.
As soon as you turn 50, get your levels checked by a doctor. If they do not lie in the above mentioned ranges, heres how to maintain your cholesterol levels:
Myth #3 If Someone Has High Cholesterol Its Because Theyre Not Eating Right And Not Exercising
False: With dedication to proper nutrition and exercise, a woman can expect her cholesterol levels to go down about 10-20%. Remember that 80% of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver, so 80% of your cholesterol level is determined by your genetics. This means that if a woman has very high cholesterol naturally, decreasing her cholesterol 10-20% through diet and exercise may not be enough to bring her down to a healthy level.
For example, say a woman has a total cholesterol level of 250 mg/dl and decides to completely revamp her eating habits and train for marathons. At best she can reduce her cholesterol level to 200 mg/dl, which is still considered borderline high.
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Age Related Changes To Cholesterol
Previous studies have reported that the effect of age on cholesterol remains significant even after adjusting for changes in diet, physical activity and the use of statins and other lipid lowering medications suggesting that additional factors contribute to the age related changes in cholesterol. Among these potential factors, we explore here variations in apolipoprotein E , a gene involved in regulating cholesterol homeostasis.
Dietary Sources Of Cholesterol
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Myth #4 Cholesterol Levels Go Down After A Woman Hits Menopause Because She Has Less Estrogen In Her Blood
False: After menopause, a woman should always expect her cholesterol levels to go up. This is not only because LDL tends to increase during this stage but also because post-menopausal women gain, on average, 8-10 pounds and often become more sedentary. The earlier you can address your cholesterol the better so you can prepare yourself for the changes to come.
When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels
In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.
Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.
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How To Keep Healthy Cholesterol Levels
1. Burn the Extra Fat
Exercise is one of the best ways to keep cholesterol levels in check. Regular physical activity and having an active lifestyle helps to burn out the extra fat which can be deposited in the body. Half an hour of aerobic activity like swimming, jogging, brisk walking, cycling or any other forms significantly increases HDL levels offering protection against cardiovascular disease. However,the effect on LDL levels is not very significant.
2. Take the Supplements
There are certain supplements which are very effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Taking these natural and safe options like niacin, fenugreek and garlic can be very helpful in reducing blood cholesterol levels. The effect of niacin on lowering LDL levels is supported by clinical research.
3. Change Your Diet
The best way to have a lower cholesterol level is to reduce fat intake, especially saturated fats. Try to have lean meat and avoid processed meats. Dairy products can be rich in fats so it is better to switch to low fat options. Increased fibre intake and reduced consumption of alcohol is proven to decrease cholesterol levels. Try to have healthy fats found in nuts and seeds. Fish oil is also recommended. Adequate hydration and lower amounts of extra sugar and salt in food is also very helpful.
4. Other Ways to Try
Cholesterol Levels For Adults
- Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
- LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be of more concern for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors. A reading of 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high and 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. A reading of 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- HDL levels should be kept higher. A reading of less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. A reading from 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL is considered borderline low. The optimal reading for HDL levels is of 60 mg/dL or higher.
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Misconception: With Medications No Lifestyle Changes Are Needed
Medications can help control cholesterol levels, but making diet and lifestyle changes are the best way to reduce heart disease and stroke risk. To lower your cholesterol, eat a heart-healthy diet and get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise a week.
Its also important to take your medication exactly as your doctor has instructed.
Learn more about cholesterol medications.
Why Age Is A Factor
The recommended ranges for your cholesterol will vary based on age and gender. As people get older, cholesterol levels rise naturally. For example, people who have gone through menopause may have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children’s cholesterol levels be checked between ages 9 and 11.
However, children with certain risk factors, such as those whose parents or grandparents have had heart attacks or been diagnosed with blocked arteries at age 55 or earlier in males or 65 or earlier in females, should be tested for cholesterol between ages 2 and 10.
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Myth #2 Foods High In Cholesterol Are What Increase My Cholesterol Blood Levels
False: Over 80% of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your own liver. The rest comes from food. It is actually foods rich in saturated fats that should be avoided because they will increase your cholesterol levels. These include butterfat in milk products, fat from red meat, and tropical oils such as coconut oil.
Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.
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How To Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
If you have high cholesterol as an adult or child there are many ways to lower your cholesterol and get your levels under control.
Essentially, you’ll want to take steps to lower your LDL and triglyceride levels while raising your HDL levels, says Steven Reisman, MD, a cardiologist and director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center. Here’s how to do it:
Misconception: Diet And Physical Activity Dictate Your Cholesterol Level
Diet and physical activity do affect overall blood cholesterol levels, but so do other factors.
Being overweight or obese tends to increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol . Getting older also causes LDL cholesterol to rise. For some, heredity may play a role.
So, a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity are important to everyone for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Understand the sources of cholesterol.
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Why Cholesterol Affects Women Differently
In general, women have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men because the female sex hormone estrogen seems to boost this good cholesterol. But, like so much else, everything changes at menopause. At this point, many women experience a change in their cholesterol levels total and LDL cholesterol rise and HDL cholesterol falls. This is why women who had favorable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with elevated cholesterol later in life. Of course, genetics and lifestyle factors can play big roles, too.