Cholesterol Levels For Men And Women
HDL levels differ for men and women
Women naturally have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men due to differences in the genes. Women should aim for an HDL cholesterol level above 1.2mmol/L while men should aim for above 1mmol/L.
Cholesterol levels can rise during pregnancy
During pregnancy, both cholesterol and triglyceride levels can significantly rise. We don’t recommend getting a cholesterol test during pregnancy because your results won’t be accurate. Our advice is to wait until at least 6-8 weeks after your baby is born or after you stop breastfeeding to get a cholesterol test. This means you don’t need to worry unnecessarily. Find out more about pregnancy and blood fats.;
Cholesterol levels rise during the menopause
Women may also find their cholesterol levels rise during the menopause.;
High Density Lipoprotein Good Cholesterol
High levels linked to a reduced risk of heart and blood vessel disease. The higher your HDL level, the better.
- Greater than 40 mg/dL
This test may be measured any time of the day without fasting. However, if the test is drawn as part of a total lipid profile, it requires a 12-hour fast . For the most accurate results, wait at least two months after a heart attack, surgery, infection, injury or pregnancy to check HDL levels.
HDL is a lipoprotein found in the blood. It is called “good” cholesterol because it removes excess cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the liver. A high HDL level is related to lower risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
Do I Need To Call My Doctor For My Test Results
It usually takes a day or two from the time the blood is drawn until your health care professional receives the results of the cholesterol test. Ideally, the health care professional will contact you with those results and explain their significance. However, if you have not been contacted in a short period of time, it is reasonable to contact your health care professional and ask for the test results.
There are home cholesterol test kits available that have been U.S. FDA approved, but their accuracy is not necessarily as good as that of a certified laboratory. These tests usually measure total cholesterol only, but some also can measure HDL, LDL, and cholesterol. If you use one of the home kits, it is wise to discuss the results with your health-care professional.
The purpose of the cholesterol blood test is to determine whether treatment is needed for high cholesterol. That treatment may include dietary and lifestyle modifications, medications, or both to control cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
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What Other Tests Might I Have Along With This Test
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests to look at how well your heart is working. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram, or ECG, which tests your heart’s electrical impulses to see if it is beating normally
- Stress test, in which you may have to exercise while being monitored by ECG
- Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to make pictures of your heart
- Cardiac catheterization. For this test, a healthcare provider puts a tube into your blood vessels and injects dye. X-rays are then done to look for clogs in the arteries of the heart
Your provider may also order tests for high blood pressure or blood sugar, or glucose.
What Should I Do With My Analysis
The results from the lipid test analyzer are ideal for empowering yourself and learning more about your potential risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Use them in conjunction with discussions with your doctor, who will provide deeper explanations of each result and help put everything into context for your unique situation.
You can also use this information to help inspire questions to ask your doctor or use it as a starting point for a conversation. Asking the right questionsand finding the right answershelps you better manage your health.
Consider downloading and bringing along this doctor discussion guide for even more guidanceit lists common vocabulary terms your doctor may use and important questions about symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and living well when you have high lipids.
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Can You Lower Triglycerides Naturally Without Drugs
Triglycerides can be lowered without drugs. For example, they can be lowered naturally through diet changes, decreasing consumption of alcohol or sugary beverages, by increasing physical activity, by losing weight, and other ways. As little as 5% to 10% reduction in body weight may lower triglycerides.
Cholesterol tests are blood tests that measure the amount of cholesterol in the body. The health care professional may order only a cholesterol test with results showing:
In addition to cholesterol level, the health-care professional also may order a lipid profile test. Â;The lipid profile test will also measure triglyceride levels and another fatty substance found in the blood.
Path To Improved Health
Your doctor will use the results of your lipid panel to calculate an ASCVD risk score. This score reveals if you are a high or low risk for heart disease. If your risk score is high, your doctor will recommend diet and lifestyle changes. He or she may prescribe medicine to lower your cholesterol. Statins are a class of medicine most often prescribed to lower cholesterol.
The American Academy of Family Physicians supports the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force clinical preventive service recommendations for lipid screening. The USPSTF recommends that healthy adults have their first lipid panel test at age 40. Adults may be tested earlier if they have certain diseases or if they smoke. According to the USPSTF, there is not enough evidence of the benefits of lipid panel testing in adults 21 to 39 years old.
Your lipid panel test will provide individual results for your good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
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What Do Cholesterol Test Numbers Mean
If you have a lipoprotein profile, it’s important to look at all the numbers from the cholesterol test, not just the total cholesterol number. That’s because LDL and HDL levels are two primary indicators of potential heart disease. Use the information below to interpret your results . This will help you get a better idea about your risk for heart disease.
Total blood cholesterol level:
- High risk: 240 mg/dL and above
- Borderline high risk: 200-239 mg/dL
- Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL
- Borderline high risk: 150-199 mg/dL
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
Getting A Cholesterol Test
We recommend that all adults should get a cholesterol check no matter what your age or how healthy you feel.
The only way to know your cholesterol levels is to get a check.;High cholesterol doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms and it can be caused by your genes as well as your lifestyle, so we advise getting a check even if you are young, fit and feel healthy.;
A cholesterol check involves a simple blood test.
Your doctor should also check another blood fat called;triglycerides,;as these also affect your heart health.;
A test will show you if you need to make healthy changes.;High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A cholesterol test, along with other simple tests including a blood pressure test,;BMI and waist measurement,;will give you a good idea of your heart health and show you if you need to make any lifestyle changes or need treatment.;
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Where Can I Find My Lipid Panel Test Results
Your test results will be ready a few days after your bloodwork. Calling or visiting your doctor is the best way to get a copy of the lab report. They may also have an online portal that you can log into.
Once the results are ready, your doctor will likely call or schedule an appointment to review them with you if there is a cause for concern. You can use this tool before or after your discussion.
On your report, you may notice different ranges than the ones in this analyzer. The reference ranges used in the analyzer are meant to represent typical ranges. If they differ, refer to the specific ones provided by the laboratory in which the test was performed.
Are Cholesterol Test Kits Reliable
The FDA does regulate some cholesterol tests, but not all. Reliability of kits can vary, and your results may not always be accurate. However, if you feel at-home cholesterol testing is preferable, ask your doctor to recommend a reliable kit. FDA approved home tests kits meet standards for accuracy.
Many test kits only provide total cholesterol levels, or information about HDL or triglycerides. Your LDL is not directly measured but can be calculated. You cant use cholesterol home tests to evaluate your overall heart risk yourself, as many risk factors – such as age, weight, gender, family history, and lifestyle — are used in this determination and should be performed by a doctor.
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Interpreting Blood Test Results
Did you receive your cholesterol test results but now you arent really sure what they mean?
Heart disease, also called coronary artery disease, leads to 1 in 4 deaths in adults in the U.S., or about 655,000 people each year. Controlling your cholesterol is important to help prevent or treat heart disease, often caused by atherosclerosis .
Your doctor may have recommend that you have a lipid profile test to help determine if your cholesterol levels are high. High cholesterol has no symptoms so you need to measure it to determine your risk.
A lipid profile is just one factor your doctor may look at to decide if you need to adjust your lifestyle with diet and exercise or add medications to lower cholesterol. Follow along here to learn about cholesterol test results.
How To Interpret Advanced Cholesterol Test Results
After last weeks post on interpreting traditional lipid tests, I promised a follow-up post on interpreting the advanced VAP and NMR Lipoprofile tests that provide measurements of particle size and all the various sub-fractions of HDL and LDL particles. I even hinted that it might be worth bypassing the traditional test entirely and going straight to the advanced stuff if you were going to get your cholesterol measured anyway, because of the greater accuracy and more detailed picture of your lipids the VAP and NMR tests provide.
Well, Im going to have to reevaluate my stance on the matter and rethink that original suggestion. Recent evidence shows and commentary from researchers concludes that the various advanced lipoprotein particle classification tests can produce wildly disparate results on the same samples to the point of rendering them unreliable , especially if were going to be evaluating our health based on the results. A 2009 systematic review found that the available LDL subfraction literature;does not provide adequate data about comparability in terms of test performance to choose one or another method to serve as a standard nor are data on comparability in terms of predicting CVD outcomes. In short, it could and probably does have diagnostic value, but there are no real standards for measurement or analysis that would allow us to use the information. Yet.
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How To Read A Lipid Profile
As we age, one of the most common screening tests, to assist in evaluating heart health, is a cholesterol test, also called a lipid panel. Most people understand the basics when it comes to interpreting the results of cholesterol tests, such as good and bad cholesterol values. But, some of the medical terms can be confusing.
Learn more about how to read a lipid profile.
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.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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Who Should Get One How Often
Everyone should get their cholesterol checked regularly. How often depends on age and certain health risk factors.
An adult with average risk of heart disease should get their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years starting at age 20.
Some adults need to test their cholesterol more regularly. Those adults include the following individuals:
- those with a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol
- anyone with a previously high cholesterol test
recommend testing a childs cholesterol levels once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21.
Cholesterol testing is generally avoided during puberty because hormones can alter the results of the tests.
Most of the time, cholesterol tests require fasting, which means no food or drink other than water for up to 12 hours prior to the test.
Because of this requirement, most people choose to have their cholesterol test done in the morning.
Questions For Your Doctor About Your Test Results
When reviewing your test results with your doctor, some questions that may be helpful include:
- What are my risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
- What do my test results show about my cardiovascular health?
- Have my lipid levels changed over time?
- Do I need any follow-up tests? When should I have another cholesterol test?
- Are any treatments recommended based on my test results? What are my treatment options and their benefits and risks?
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How To Get Tested
Many lipid tests are done with a blood draw in a doctors office, lab, medical clinic, or hospital. The test is usually ordered by your doctor. After being taken, your blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Point-of-care lipid testing involves a drop of blood taken from your finger that is immediately analyzed by a small device. This type of test is used in some clinics and at events like health fairs.
How It Is Done
The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with alcohol.
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
- Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.
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Are Test Results Accurate
Cholesterol testing is routine and reliable. While no test is 100% accurate, careful laboratory procedures help ensure dependable test results. If proper test procedures and preparation are followed, including fasting when needed, false positive or false negative results are rare.
Point-of-care lipid testing, which is performed on-site and not in a laboratory, has more variability than laboratory testing but still provides a meaningful reference point for measuring cholesterol. When point-of-care or at-home tests show abnormal lipid levels, follow-up testing is often recommended in a certified laboratory.
What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure
In addition to measuring the total cholesterol in your blood, the standard cholesterol test measures three specific kinds of fat:
- Low-density lipoproteins . This is the “bad cholesterol,” the main cause of plaque build-up, which increases your risk for heart disease. In general, the lower the number, the better. But LDL cholesterol is only one part of a larger equation that measures a personâs overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke. For years, guidelines focused on specific target numbers for individuals to achieve to lower their risk. The most recent guidelines focus on a personâs overall risk and, based on that risk, recommend a certain percentage of LDL reduction as one part of a strategy for preventing serious heart and vascular problems.
- High-density lipoproteins . This is the “good cholesterol.” It transports bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is excreted by the body. Your HDL is another part of the equation that identifies the risk of a cardiovascular event. In general, the higher the number the better, although, as with LDL, the emphasis has shifted from specific target numbers to strategies for reducing the overall risk.
- Triglycerides. Another type of fat in the bloodstream, triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. They are stored in fat cells throughout the body.
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Cholesterol: The Good And The Bad Of It
HDL High-density lipoprotein
- Makes up 20%30% of total cholesterol
- The “good” cholesterol
- Moves cholesterol from arteries to the liver.
LDL Low-density lipoprotein
- Makes up 60%70% of total cholesterol
- Main form of “bad” cholesterol
- Causes build-up of plaque inside arteries.
VLDL Very-low-density lipoprotein
- Makes up 10%15% of total cholesterol
- With LDL, the main form of “bad” cholesterol
- A precursor of LDL.
LDL cholesterol.;The LDL measurement is usually considered the most important for assessing risk and deciding on treatment. The definition of a healthy level keeps on getting lower. For people at low risk of heart disease, an LDL of less than 100 is desirable, However, people at higher risk of heart disease, an LDL of less than 70 or perhaps even lower is considered “optimal.” Some experts say that an LDL of less than 70 would be a healthy LDL goal for all of us.
Your LDL is computed by plugging the measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides into a: LDL = Total cholesterol HDL . LDL can also be measured directly in a non-fasting blood sample.
You have to fast for about 10 hours before the test because triglyceride levels can shoot up 20%30% after a meal, which would throw off the equation. Alcohol also causes a triglyceride surge, so you shouldn’t drink alcohol for 24 hours before a fasting cholesterol test.
The numbers to know