What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
- 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As a general guide, LDL levels should be:
- 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is only one risk factor. The level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.
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Is There A Specific Test For Fh
Usually, your LDL-cholesterol levels and family medical history are enough for a clinical diagnosis of FH. This consists of a lipid panel , as well as a series of questions your healthcare practitioner will ask you about your familys health .
An FH diagnosis can be fully confirmed by a genetic test. Consult a cardiologist, lipid specialist or genetic counselor if you suspect you have FH.
The main difference between Familial Hypercholesterolemia and lifestyle-induced high cholesterol is the familial aspect. In other words, FH is inherited high cholesterol it is not caused by eating too many burgers! This is why it is extremely important that you are aware of your familys medical history and you report it to your physician. Find an FH Specialist here.
Youve Got To Move It Move It
Research has shown that exercise can increase HDL levels and lower triglycerides.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. And kids ages 6 to 17 should get an hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day.
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How To Spot Signs Of High Cholesterol
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 62,753 times.
High cholesterol rarely presents with visible signs and symptoms. There are rare cases in which there may be physical signs, such as around the eyes and/or over the tendons, but this occurs for the minority of people. Normally, high cholesterol must be screened for and detected via a blood test. If you do in fact get diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor can advise you as to an appropriate treatment plan.
Hdl Cholesterol Or Good Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is sometimes called good cholesterol. It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
More People Have Fh Than You Think
More than a third of the population has high cholesterol, according to the CDC, and about 1 in 200 adults are affected by FH in the general population. That means about 1.3 million people in the United States have FH, including children.
FH is frequently diagnosed in insular communities, such as Ashkenazi Jews, Dutch Afrikaners, and French Canadians, who have a greater chance of passing FH among themselves.
Underberg says that FH does not affect any particular race, ethnicity, or gender differently from any other. But in a review published in Circulation in May 2020, researchers found that 60 percent of studies and over 80 percent of reported FH cases are from Europe, with no representation from Southeast Asia and Africa, suggesting that further research is needed on racial disparity.
What Do The Results Mean
Cholesterol is usually measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The information below will help you understand what your test results mean. In general, low LDL levels and high HDL cholesterol levels are good for heart health.
|Total Cholesterol Level|
|Less than 40 mg/dL||A major risk factor for heart disease|
The LDL listed on your results may say “calculated.” This means that your LDL level is an estimate based on your total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides. Your LDL level may also be measured “directly” from your blood sample. Either way, you want your LDL number to be low.
A healthy cholesterol level for you may depend on your age, family history, lifestyle, and other risk factors for heart disease, such as high triglyceride levels. Your provider can explain what’s right for you.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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What You Can Do
Learn the basics: âYour cholesterolâ isnât just one number, but several that together give your doctor a âlipid profile.â Unhealthy levels are linked to hardening of the arteries, which can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Your numbers include âbadâ and âgoodâ cholesterol, and triglycerides. Armed with this knowledge, and with the help and guidance of your doctor, you can start to understand and manage your own levels.
Get tested: Because unhealthy cholesterol numbers often donât cause symptoms, especially at first, itâs important to get tested. You can be slim and feel healthy and still have a cholesterol problem. Once you know thereâs a problem, you can try to change it through diet, lifestyle, and, if necessary, medication. But youâre unlikely to do that if you donât know about it. If youâre 20 or older, you should get your levels checked every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor should test you more often if youâre overweight or diabetic or you have heart disease.
Exercise: Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control your cholesterol. You donât have to run a marathon. A half-hour or so of brisk walking, swimming, or dancing three or four times a week should do the trick. If youâre short on time, you can break it into 10-minute increments throughout the day. Resistance training — pushups, pullups, weights — may help too.
Causes Of High Cholesterol
Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Living with obesity can also increase your risk. Other lifestyle factors that can contribute to high cholesterol include inactivity and smoking.
Your genetics can also affect your chances of developing high cholesterol. Genes are passed down from parents to children. Certain genes instruct your body on how to process cholesterol and fats. If your parents have high cholesterol, you may be at a greater risk of having it too.
In rare cases, high cholesterol is caused by familial hypercholesterolemia. This genetic disorder prevents your body from removing LDL. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute , most adults with this condition have total cholesterol levels above 300 milligrams per deciliter and LDL levels above 200 milligrams per deciliter.
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Good Vs Bad Cholesterol
Bad cholesterol, Low-density lipoproteins , can build up in your arteries and lead to health complications. Good cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins , returns your LDL cholesterol to the liver where the body can get rid of it. Your body needs a healthy balance of both good and bad cholesterol.
A diet high in fats increases LDL cholesterol in your blood. If LDL levels become too high or if you dont have enough HDL cholesterol to remove excess LDL, fatty deposits build up in your blood vessels. As a result, it makes it difficult for your body to pump adequate blood supply, creating potentially life-threatening problems impacting the heart or brain.
High cholesterol does not always cause symptoms in fact it typically begins with no symptoms at all. Thats why regular cholesterol screenings are so important regardless if you think you have high cholesterol or not.
Triglycerides A Different Type Of Lipid
Triglycerides are another type of lipid. Theyre different from cholesterol. While your body uses cholesterol to build cells and certain hormones, it uses triglycerides as a source of energy.
When you eat more calories than your body can use right away, it converts those calories into triglycerides. It stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through your bloodstream.
If you regularly eat more calories than your body can use, your triglyceride levels can get high. This may raise your risk of several health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Your doctor can use a simple blood test to measure your triglyceride level, as well as your cholesterol levels. Learn how to get your triglyceride level tested.
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What Exactly Is Cholesterol
Everyone has cholesterol, a yellowy-white wax-like lipid thats in every cell of your body. Cholesterol keeps your cells and organs working properly. It also plays a major role in hormone, vitamin, and digestive fluid production.
Cholesterol comes from two sources 80 percent is naturally produced by your liver and intestines, and your diet accounts for the last 20 percent.
Choose Products Low In Saturated Fat Trans Fat And Cholesterol
When shopping for food, use the nutrition information panel to compare and choose products with lower fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that raises your total and LDL cholesterol and risk of heart disease, so intake should be limited. The average adult should consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.
Trans fat is more harmful and damaging to the arteries as it raises LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol. Ideally, best to get 0 grams of this per day.
Keep in mind that manufacturers can list their products as 0 grams if it has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This means that your food may contain trans-fat even if the food label says 0 gram. Therefore its important to check the ingredient list .
Cholesterol guidelines currently recommend having not more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day, and if you have heart disease, aim for less than 200 milligrams per day.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol typically doesnt have any symptoms until it is an emergency event. The only way to know if you have a high level of ldl cholesterol is through a blood test. Leaving cholesterol untreated can lead to the buildup of plaque over time, damaging the heart and putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Keep an eye out for heart attack or early stroke symptoms like:
The Forming Of A Grey Ring Around Your Cornea
This one is pretty tough to spot, so look closely. If you notice that theres a greyish ring around the cornea of your eye, that could be a pretty good indication of high cholesterol being built up in that area. The cornea covers the iris of the eye. Because the grey rings are common with older people, its only a reliable indicator of high cholesterol for people under 45.
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Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.
Everything You Need To Know About High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance our body needs for the formation of cells, certain hormones and vitamin D. Our body produces cholesterol and its also found in some foods. There are both good and bad types of cholesterol in our body. If we produce too much of the bad cholesterol, it can lead to many health problems, including heart attack or stroke.
Although bad for our bodies, high cholesterol usually causes no symptoms, unless at very high levels. Thats why its important to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly.
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Heredity Can Play A Role
Some people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to have too much cholesterol. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH is related to the duration and degree of LDL cholesterol in the blood. FH is dangerous because it can cause premature atherosclerotic heart disease.
If you have a family history of FH or problems related to high cholesterol, get your levels checked.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to lower your cholesterol. Some people only need some simple lifestyle changes like eating less saturated fat. Others need lifestyle changes plus medication. People with medical conditions that affect their cholesterol may need a more complex approach. Talk with your provider about your medical history, family history and lifestyle factors. Together, youll come up with a plan for lowering your cholesterol numbers.
Remember that even the best plans take time to work. And we all have setbacks. Its OK to struggle, and its also OK to tell your provider when a plan isnt working. Sometimes even the strictest lifestyle changes dont lower your cholesterol numbers enough. Thats because most of your bodys cholesterol is produced by your liver. So, many other factors come into play that are out of your control and have nothing to do with whats on your dinner plate.
Take things one step at a time, and remember that having high cholesterol isnt a personal failure. Its a result of many small changes quietly happening inside your body. Take control of what you can, but know that medications and other medical interventions are there to fill in the gaps.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2022.
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Make The Changes Worth Making
If you have high blood cholesterol, making lifestyle changes is a great first step to lower your risk of heart disease. If those steps dont reduce your risk enough, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.
Remember: Making even modest changes now can help to prevent significant medical issues later. Do all you can to reduce your risk for the serious effects of heart attack and stroke.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
These events typically dont occur until high cholesterol leads to the formation of plaque in your arteries. Plaque can narrow arteries so less blood can pass through. The formation of plaque changes the makeup of your arterial lining. This could lead to serious complications.
A blood test is the only way to know if your cholesterol is too high. This means having a total blood cholesterol level above 200 milligrams per deciliter . Ask a doctor to give you a cholesterol test after you turn 20. Then get your cholesterol rechecked every 4 to 6 years.
A doctor may also suggest you have your cholesterol checked more frequently if you have a family history of high cholesterol. They might also suggest it if you demonstrate the following risk factors:
- have high blood pressure
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Nutrition And Dietary Supplements
In addition to eating a healthy diet, low in saturated fat, with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, some specific foods and supplements may help lower cholesterol.
Fiber: Several studies show that soluble fiber lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Fiber can also help you lose weight because it makes you feel full. Your doctor will encourage you to get more fiber in your diet. You may also take a fiber supplement. Men should get 30 to 38 g of fiber per day. Women should get 21 to 25 g per day.
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber found in oat bran and other plants. It slightly reduces LDL cholesterol, which is why oat bran is touted as a cholesterol-lowering food.
Soy: Many studies have shown that eating soy protein , rather than animal meat, helps lower blood cholesterol levels, especially when you eat a diet low in saturated fat. One study found that as little as 20 g of soy protein per day is effective in reducing total cholesterol, and that 40 to 50 g shows faster effects . Another study found that soy can help reduce triglyceride levels. The AHA recommends that people with elevated total and LDL cholesterol add soy to their daily diet, and that soy is safe when consumed as part of your regular diet. But talk to your doctor before you take soy supplements. Soy isoflavones may have estrogen-like effects in the body, which might lead to an increased risk of breast and other cancers.