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How Do You Check Cholesterol

Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results

How to test & monitor your Cholesterol levels at home

The following questions may be helpful as you discuss your cholesterol test results with your doctor:

  • What is my risk for cardiovascular disease? What factors affect that risk?
  • What do the cholesterol test results indicate about my heart health?
  • Have my cholesterol levels changed over time?
  • Do I need any follow-up tests?
  • How often should I have a cholesterol test?
  • Do you recommend treatment to lower my cardiovascular risk? What are the treatment options and their benefits and risks?

How Is A Total Cholesterol Test Different From A Lipid Panel

A total cholesterol test measures only the sum of all kinds of cholesterol. A lipid panel includes the total cholesterol measurement but also determines the levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. For this reason, a lipid panel offers more detail and is more commonly used as a test for initial cholesterol screening.

Are Results From A Cholesterol Home Test Kit Reliable

The reliability of cholesterol home tests varies, and the results can fluctuate. It depends on the maker of the kits. Many cholesterol home test kits advertise that they are greater than 95% accurate. Still, these cholesterol results should be considered approximations and should not take the place of a cholesterol test conducted by your health care provider.

In addition, even if you consistently get normal results from your cholesterol home kit test strips, it’s very important to consult with your health care provider. To determine your risk of heart disease, your health care provider will evaluate your cholesterol level along with other factors such as your weight, physical exam results, medical history, and family history. Your health care provider may conduct other tests aside from the cholesterol screening.

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How And When To Have Your Cholesterol Checked

Getting your cholesterol levels checked is an important part of staying healthy. High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States.

Knowing your cholesterol status can help you stay in control of your health. Learn about cholesterol screening and why it is important.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to make hormones and digest fats. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, but you can also get cholesterol from eating certain foods, such as egg yolks and fatty meats. Having high blood cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood cholesterol doesnt have symptoms, which is why getting your cholesterol levels checked is so important.

Learn more about cholesterol screenings.

You should get your cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. If you have cardiovascular risk factors, talk with your health care team about getting tested more often.

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What Are Risk Factors For High Blood Cholesterol

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Lifestyle, some health conditions, and family history can raise your risk for high cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest you have your cholesterol checked more often if you have risk factors, such as the following:

  • A family history of heart disease or high blood cholesterol. You are more at risk of having high cholesterol if other people in your family have it. This may be due to genetics, but it may also be that families share the same unhealthy lifestyle habits. Some people also have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, which can cause high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol from a young age.
  • Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes raises bad cholesterol and lowers high-density lipoprotein , or good, cholesterol, raising the risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Older age. As you age, your body cant clear cholesterol as well as it used to.
  • Being male. Men tend to have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels than women do. But after menopause , LDL cholesterol levels in women increase.4,5
  • Having overweight or obesity. Excess weight, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity can lead to high cholesterol.
  • Previously having had high cholesterol. If you have a history of high cholesterol, your doctor may want you to keep a closer watch on your cholesterol.

Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test.

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Knowing What To Look For In Medical Tests

  • 1Ask your doctor for a lipid panel.XTrustworthy SourceNational Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteResearch and education center within the National Institutes of HealthGo to source Because high cholesterol almost always presents with no signs or symptoms, the fastest and easiest way to detect it is via a blood test. Specifically, alipid panel evaluates your HDL cholesterol, your LDL cholesterol, your total cholesterol, and your triglyceride levels .
  • It is a fasting blood test, meaning that you cannot eat or drink fluids other than water for nine to 12 hours prior to the blood test.
  • You may eat and/or drink immediately following the blood test.
  • For this reason, most people do the test first thing in the morning , and eat breakfast after the blood test is over.
  • 2Learn how to interpret your blood test results.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the worlds leading hospitalsGo to source When your blood test results come back from the lab, you will want to know whether they are concerning or not. Heres how to interpret your results:
  • HDL cholesterol: below 40mg/dL for men or 50mg/dL for women is poor, 50â59mg/dL is better, and above 60mg/dL is best. Ironically, HDL cholesterol is the one value where the higher numbers are more desirable.
  • LDL cholesterol: below 70â129mg/dL is desirable . 130â159mg/dL is considered borderline high, and above 160mg/dL is high.
  • Screening can then continue every five years thereafter, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Recognizing Signs And Symptoms

  • 1Look out for yellow patches around the skin of your eyelids.XResearch source These are called “xanthelasma palpebrarum.” They may be associated with a certain type of high cholesterol called familial hypercholesterolemia .
  • These yellow patches which may or may not be raised off the skin.
  • They tend to be located above or below the eye, and often in both locations.
  • They are a sign of cholesterol deposition under the skin.
  • Note, however, that this only occurs in certain high cholesterol syndromes, and that the majority of cases of high cholesterol present with no signs or symptoms at all.
  • 2Look for yellowish deposits in your tendons.XResearch source These are called “xanthomata,” and they occur particularly in the tendons of the fingers. If they occur in the palm, knees, and/or elbows, they may be associated with Type III hyperlipidemia.
  • These often appear as bumps over the knuckles in your hands.
  • There are often many of them present, and in more than one area at once.
  • Again, this only occurs in certain high cholesterol syndromes, and the majority of cases of high cholesterol present with no signs or symptoms.
  • Therefore, even if you have no signs or symptoms, it is advisable to ask your doctor to screen your cholesterol levels at least every five years with a simple blood test .
  • Eating an unhealthy diet high in fat and sugar
  • Having a large waist circumference
  • Being overweight or obese
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    What Do The Results Mean

    Cholesterol is usually measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The information below shows how the different types of cholesterol measurements are categorized.

    Total Cholesterol Level
    Less than 40 mg/dL A major risk factor for heart disease

    A healthy cholesterol range for you may depend on your age, family history, lifestyle, and other risk factors. In general, low LDL levels and high HDL cholesterol levels are good for heart health. High levels of triglycerides may also put you at risk for heart disease.

    The LDL on your results may say calculated which means it includes a calculation of total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides. Your LDL level may also be measured directly, without using other measurements. Regardless, you want your LDL number to be low.

    What Do I Need To Know Before Getting Screened

    Easy Way to Check your Cholesterol and Blood Glucose Levels

    A cholesterol test is a simple blood test. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test. The results give you four measurements:1,3

    • Total cholesterol. Less than 200 mg/dL is considered normal.
    • LDL cholesterol. Less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal. LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol, because it can build up and clog your arteries, eventually leading to heart disease or stroke.
    • HDL cholesterol. It is best to have more than 40 mg/dL. HDL is sometimes called good cholesterol, because it can help clear arteries of cholesterol buildup.
    • Triglycerides. This is a type of fat in the blood. Normal levels are typically below 150 mg/dL.

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    Buying Guide For Best Home Cholesterol Test Kits

    If your cholesterol levels dont fall within normal ranges, you are at risk for strokes and cardiovascular disease. To stay healthy, lipid profile blood testing as prescribed by your healthcare provider is important. But, in between doctor visits, how do you know if youre keeping your levels in check?

    Home cholesterol test kits provide an easy way to test various forms of cholesterol and triglycerides. Many tests available on todays market offer a high degree of accuracy, and some are even approved by the Food and Drug Administration . And while home cholesterol testing should never take the place of thorough lipid testing performed by your doctor, its a good tool for monitoring your numbers before your next visit.

    Whether this is your first time shopping for a home cholesterol test kit or you are browsing different options to find the best one for your needs, youve come to the right place. We have selected the top kits available based on reliability and results and put together a handy shopping guide below to help you choose the right kit for your needs.

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    Preparation For A Cholesterol Test

    In some cases, your doctor may ask you to fast before having your cholesterol levels tested. If youre only getting your HDL and total cholesterol levels checked, you may be able to eat beforehand. However, if youre having a complete lipid profile done, you should avoid eating or drinking anything other than water for nine to 12 hours before your test.

    Before your test, you should also tell your doctor about:

    • any symptoms or health problems youre experiencing
    • your family history of heart health
    • all medications and supplements that youre currently taking

    If youre taking medications that could increase your cholesterol levels, such as birth control pills, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them a few days before your test.

    What Happens During A Cholesterol Test

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    The cholesterol test, or screening, requires a simple blood draw. You may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before your cholesterol test. Be sure to ask your doctor how to prepare for the test.

    The cholesterol test checks your levels of:

    • Low-density lipoprotein or badcholesterol. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease or stroke.
    • High-density lipoprotein or goodcholesterol. HDL is known as good cholesterol because high levels can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
    • Triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
    • Total cholesterol, the total amount of cholesterol in your blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.

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    Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels

    New Zealand guidelines for blood cholesterol levels are as follows.

    Cholesterol: Acceptable range
    LDL: Less than 2.0 mmol/L
    • LDL is often called ‘bad’ cholesterol.
    • It takes cholesterol from your liver to different parts of your body.
    • When there’s too much LDL cholesterol, it builds up on the inside of your blood vessels.
    • This makes your blood vessels narrow, putting you at risk of heart disease or stroke.
    HDL: Greater than 1.0 mmol/L
    • HDL is often called ‘good’ cholesterol.
    • HDL takes extra cholesterol away from your arteries to your liver, to prepare it to be removed from your body.
    • Higher levels of HDL lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.
    Triglycerides: Less than 1.7 mmol/L
    • Triglycerides store and transport fat in your blood.
    • Energy from food and alcohol that your body doesn’t is changed to triglycerides.
    • High triglycerides increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
    Total cholesterol: Less than 4.0 mmol/L
    • This is a rough measure of all the cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
    Total cholesterol/HDL ratio: Less than 4.0
    • This is the ratio of your total cholesterol to your HDL cholesterol. This ratio is used to estimate your risk of heart attack and stroke.

    How Do I Fix It

    Yes, it helps a lot if you take some medicine, but more importantly, you should remedy your life habits.

    lifestyle remedy

    • Reduce saturated fat and trans fat intake. Saturated fat and trans fat increase cholesterol level. Red meat and dairy products contain a lot of saturated fat. Natural trans fats are found in artificially made products like snacks and fast food.
    • Eat healthy. I recommend food that contains fiber or unsaturated fat. For example, there are fruits, vegetables, oats, beans, nuts, and fish. Omega-3 will also help lowering your cholesterol level.
    • Exercise at least 120 min a week. If you do it for 30 min a day, 4 times a week is recommended.

    Do not just starve. It might be bad for your health. You can find the right diet and exercise for you, so consult with your doctor and start.

    Medication treatment

    If you are at a high risk of dyslipidemia, or if the implementation of your lifestyle remedy plan didnt work, you need to take medicine along with the other treatment plans. Medicine may vary with your condition.

    You will get medicine according to your test result.

    For example, if it is the LDL problem, they can give you Statin. That medicine has a side effect that might give you muscle pain or joint pain. Besides that medicine, they can prescribe you with Ezetimibe, PCSK9 inhibitor, or other drugs that are related to LDL metabolism. On the other hand, if it is the TG problem, you will control it with Fibrate or Omega-3 fatty acid.

    References

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    When Should I Get Ldl Cholesterol Testing

    LDL cholesterol testing may be used to assess your risk of cardiovascular disease or monitor changes in cholesterol over time.

    Doctors will take factors such as age, family history, and other medical conditions when determining how often you should check your levels of LDL cholesterol. Examples of common screening recommendations are outlined below:

    Demographic Group
    With or without risk factors Annually

    Having your cholesterol levels checked at regular intervals gives doctors a chance to notice any changes that could become harmful to your health. High or increasing cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, among other conditions.

    Doctors may want to test your cholesterol levels more regularly if you or your family have a history of heart disease, smoking, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or a diet high in saturated fat.

    How To Lower Your Cholesterol

    Here’s How to Test Cholesterol At-Home

    If you are wondering what to do about your cholesterol follow these rules:

  • Get regular aerobic physical exercise. It has been proven that regular exercises increase HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL cholesterol . Moreover, it may also lower your risk of heart attack or stroke, as it reduces the blood pressure.

  • Diet. Eat foods low in fatty acids, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Don’t forget to include in your diet fish as they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Consider eating cholesterol-lowering foods, such as margarine, enriched with plant sterols and stanols.

  • Use medications. If the non-pharmacological ways of treatment don’t bring satisfactory results, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor who may propose drug therapies. There are numerous drugs which can be used to lower your bad cholesterol and correct your LDL HDL ratio. It has been scientifically proven that they not only lower down the cholesterol but also and prolong life.

  • Don’t be afraid to do good changes in your life. Calculate your LDL HDL ratio and other ratios using our cholesterol ratio calculator. Lower your cholesterol, treat hypertension and diabetes, check for abnormalities in your ECG, protect your heart and live healthier, longer and happier!

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