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How To Interpret Cholesterol Results

Facts You Should Know About Cholesterol Tests

Ep:181 HOW TO INTERPRET YOUR BLOOD WORK: LIPID/CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS – by Robert Cywes
  • Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is an important part of normal body function.
  • Cholesterolhas two main types: HDL, or good cholesterol, that protects against heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease and LD, or bad, cholesterol, which increases the risk of these conditions.
  • Cholesterol tests measure total cholesterol as well as HDL and LDL levels in the blood. Triglycerides, another type of fat present in the bloodstream, may also be measured.
  • Cholesterol tests are usually ordered and blood drawn in a doctor’s office. There are also home test kits available. It is important to be fasting for the tests to be accurate. Typically, a fasting test is performed first thing in the morning before the individual has eaten anything for the day. Fasting typically requires 12 hours without food. Water, plain tea or coffee are permitted, and hydration is required. No other liquids are acceptable during the fasting period. Patients cannot add sugar, artificial sweeteners, cream, or milk to drinks.
  • If you take OTC, prescription, or herbal supplements discuss these with your doctor prior to the test.
  • Cholesterol test results should be discussed with the health-care professional to determine if treatment of high cholesterol is necessary to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Finding Out Your Triglycerides Levels

Triglycerides are measured with a simple blood test. Triglyceride levels should be measured when you have a cholesterol test as they can also contribute to your risk of developing heart disease, and other disease of the heart and blood vessels. The triglyceride test measures the triglycerides carried in chylomicrons and VLDL cholesterol. National guidelines in the UK no longer recommend a fasting blood test .

What should your triglyceride levels be?

HEART UK experts state that we should aim for a non-fasting triglyceride level below 2.3mmol/L.

If your doctor has asked you to fast for a test then your triglyceride level should be below 1.7mmol/L. This “fasting test” number is lower because only the triglycerides made by the liver and carried in the VLDL cholesterol will be measured not the triglycerides you get from food. As you have not eaten, there will be no chylomicrons present in your blood.

Fasting And Cholesterol Tests

For many years, fasting prior to cholesterol tests was recommended in every case. However, increasingly, doctors are reconsidering this recommendation. Research suggests that food intake doesnt affect the accuracy of measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL.

That said, food before a test can elevate triglyceride levels, so accuracy there does require fasting. Prior to your test, double-check with your doctor about how best to prepare.

Cholesterol tests provide a broader glimpse of your health status. You cant really affect results without making significant, long-term dietary or lifestyle changes . As such, behaviors like steering clear of foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat within a couple of days of your lipid profile wont really affect results.

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What Is A Healthy Normal Cholesterol Level In The Uk

Your cholesterol level is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.

It is recommended that healthy adults should have a total cholesterol level below 5 mmol/L. The total cholesterol level includes LDL and HDL . The risk of coronary heart disease is particularly high if you have a high level of LDL cholesterol and a low level of HDL cholesterol. Individual levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol will vary and your doctor will be able to give you specific advice based on your own results.

In the UK, components of cholesterol are measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood . As a guide, these are the values healthy adults should aim for

Total cholesterol

Who Should Have A Cholesterol Test

Go 11: Adventures in cholesterol

Anyone can have their blood cholesterol level tested, but its particularly important for people that are over 40 years old, have high blood pressure, are overweight, or have a family history of coronary heart disease.

Adults aged between 4074 years, living in England are eligible for a free NHS Health Check which includes a blood cholesterol check. If you have a history of heart disease in the family or youre concerned you have high cholesterol, speak with your doctor who will be able to offer some advice.

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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

Ldl Cholesterol: ‘bad’ Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is the type that tends to deposit on the walls of the arteries. White blood cells combine with the LDL cholesterol, forming artery-narrowing plaque, which restricts blood flow. The optimal level of LDL cholesterol for most people is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you have heart disease, you may need to strive for LDL levels of 70 mg/dL or lower.

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Getting Your Cholesterol Checked

Many people have never had their cholesterol checked, so they dont know whether they are at risk.

High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms.

The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team can do a simple blood test, called a lipid profile, to measure your cholesterol levels.

What Can Raise Your Triglycerides

How to read your cholesterol test results – lipid profile

Triglycerides can be raised due to what doctors refer to as ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ causes, explained below. Some people have a combination of both.

It is very important that your doctors investigates all these potential causes so that you can start treatment.

Primary causes of raised triglycerides

‘Primary’ refers to inherited conditions which cause raised triglyceride levels.

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What Is This Test

This group of tests measures the amount of cholesterol and other fats in your blood.

Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipids, or fats. These fats are important for cell health, but they can be harmful when they build up in the blood. Sometimes they can lead to clogged, inflamed arteries, a condition call atherosclerosis. This may keep your heart from working normally if the arteries of your heart muscle are affected.

This panel of tests helps predict your risk for heart disease and stroke.

A lipid panel measures these fats:

  • Total cholesterol
  • Stress
  • High total cholesterol

If you are already being treated for heart disease, you may have this test to see whether treatment is working.

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Can You Get Rid Of Cholesterol Deposits

Researchers are working on ways to eliminate plaque from coronary arteries. One method that has been proposed involves using combinations of medicines in healthy people aged 25 to 55 years. It is suggested that getting the levels of cholesterol down very low will allow arteries to clear up and heal up.

Several researchers believe that the way to reverse heart disease and prevent it in the first place is found in a whole-food, plant-based diet. Studies have been done that have shown that limiting nutrition to whole foods that are plant-based have been successful in reducing blood cholesterol and even, in some cases, lessening plaque buildup.

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Cholesterol Testing And Results

ADAM Health,

Cholesterol is a soft, wax-like substance found in all parts of the body. Your body needs a little bit of cholesterol to work properly. But too much cholesterol can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease .

Cholesterol Tests

  • Total cholesterol
  • Low density lipoprotein
  • High density lipoprotein
  • Triglycerides
  • Very low density lipoprotein

When Should You Be Tested?

  • Diabetes
  • A strong family history of heart disease
  • Every 5 years if your results were normal.
  • More often for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or blood flow problems to the legs or feet.
  • Every year or so if you are taking medicines to control high cholesterol.

Total CholesterolLDL Cholesterol

  • You have diabetes and are between ages 40 and 75
  • You have diabetes and a high risk of heart disease
  • You have a medium or high risk of heart disease
  • You have heart disease, history of a stroke, or poor circulation to your legs

Health care providers have traditionally set a target level for your LDL cholesterol if you are being treated with medicines to lower your cholesterol .

  • Some newer guidelines now suggest that providers no longer need to target a specific number for your LDL cholesterol. Higher strength medicines are used for the highest risk patients.
  • However, some guidelines still recommend using specific targets.

HDL CholesterolVLDL CholesterolConsiderations

Cholesterol: The Good And The Bad Of It

Can someone help me interpret my VAP Cholesterol Test ...

HDL High-density lipoprotein

  • 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 shouldnt drink alcohol for 24 hours before a fasting cholesterol test.

The numbers to know

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About Your Cholesterol Result

A cholesterol test can measure:

  • total cholesterol the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood, including both “good” and “bad” cholesterol
  • good cholesterol this makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke
  • bad cholesterol this makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke
  • triglycerides a fatty substance similar to bad cholesterol

When you get your result, you may just be told your total cholesterol.

You might be able to get separate results for your good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Ask your doctor or nurse.

What Complications Are Possible If You Dont Treat High Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood

The main reason to treat high cholesterol is to prevent or treat coronary heart disease , also called coronary artery disease or CAD. CHD happens when heart is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to function well and kills more people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. CHD usually refers to the large arteries, but there is also a condition called coronary microvascular disease that affects the small vessels and causes damage.

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What Is Cholesterol Cholesterol Is Needed By Your Body

Before we can get down to brass tacks and learn about what the cholesterol numbers really mean, you have to understand what cholesterol is in the first place.

Many people have the misguided idea that cholesterol is all bad, but the truth is that cholesterol is needed by your body. It is a lipid that your body actually requires in order to function properly, and without it your body wont work well.

Serum cholesterol is produced in your liver, and dietary cholesterol is consumed in the stuff you eat.

Your body uses both types of cholesterol to balance out the cholesterol levels in your body, which helps your body to work well.

Think of cholesterol as the grease that oils the cogs of your bodys inner mechanisms, and you have an idea of what cholesterol does.

As mentioned above, cholesterol is needed by the body to function properly, but it is when the cholesterol gets out of control that problems start to arise.

Imagine using a piece of gristle or meat to oil your engine rather than regular oil, and you can get an idea of what happens when your cholesterol levels get too high.

What Is High Cholesterol

How to Interpret an LDL Cholesterol Test Accurately

Cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles per litre in the UK. The government recommends the general population aims for under 5 mmol/L of total cholesterol levels, but three out of five adults in the UK have levels of 5 mmol/L or above.

Your GP will explain your cholesterol readings and what they mean in terms of your future health – mainly whether you have a high, moderate or low risk of developing cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years.

After the test, you may just be given the TC figure, but ask your surgery for your full results and keep a note of them to compare against future checks.

Heres a quick guide to understanding your cholesterol levels.

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How Is A Cholesterol Test Performed

To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will need to get a sample of your blood. You will probably have your blood drawn in the morning, sometimes after fasting since the night before.

A blood test is an outpatient procedure. It takes only a few minutes and is relatively painless. Its usually performed at a diagnostic lab. In some cases, it can also be performed during a regular doctor visit, at a local pharmacy, or even at home. Walk-in clinic rates can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. Cholesterol testing at a local pharmacy can cost $5 to $25. An at-home test can cost anywhere from $15 to $25, while tests that need to be shipped to a lab can average $75 to $200.

There are very few risks associated with having your blood drawn for a cholesterol test. You may feel slightly faint or have some soreness or pain at the site where your blood was drawn. Theres also a very slight risk of infection at the puncture site.

Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. Ideal results for most adults are:

  • LDL: 70 to 130 mg/dL
  • HDL: more than 40 to 60 mg/dL
  • total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
  • triglycerides: 10 to 150 mg/dL

What Does It Mean If My Cholesterol Levels Are High

Your cholesterol levels give information about your overall health and your risk of cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your healthcare provider about your results. They will look at your other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as your age, gender, blood pressure and whether you smoke or have diabetes, before deciding what needs to happen next.Stopping smoking, eating a healthier diet and being more active lower your risk of heart disease. If your risk is high enough, you might need to take medicines to lower your cholesterol levels.

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Why High Cholesterol Matters

High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the U.S. High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and restricting blood flow. If some of this plaque breaks off and gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can block the artery and cut off blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in heart attack or stroke.

How To Maintain Good Cholesterol Levels And Good Cholesterol Numbers

Blood Cholesterols: How To Read Cholesterol Blood Test Results

If you want to maintain good cholesterol levels, good for you!

The fact of the matter is that keeping your cholesterol levels in control is important, so you are doing the right thing by making the decision to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Here are a few tips to help you get your cholesterol values balanced so you can pass the nest cholesterol blood test with flying colors:

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A More Accurate Measurement Tool

The traditional Friedewald equation estimates LDL cholesterol this way: total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol minus triglycerides divided by five. For simplicitys sake, the formula applies a one-size-fits-all factor of five to everyone. But Johns Hopkins researchers found that this often makes LDL cholesterol appear lower than it really is for some high-risk patients. The researchers sought a more accurate formula that would take into account specific details about a persons cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Using a database of blood lipid samples from more than 1.3 million Americansalmost 3,000 times larger than the one used to develop the Friedewald equation Johns Hopkins researchers developed a more accurate system for calculating LDL cholesterol. It can be used to make more precise decisions about treatment to prevent heart attack and stroke.

This newer LDL cholesterol formula is being adopted by U.S. laboratories as well as others around the world. The best implementation is direct coding the LDL cholesterol estimation in the lab IT system, which automates the process and saves clinicians time. The formula is also available as a mobile device app called the LDL Cholesterol Calculator. It is available on the iTunes App Store and on Google Play, for those whose lab hasnt adopted it.

Researchers hope the new formula will one day be adopted by all labs that process lipid panels, as it can improve patient care.

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