How Is Cholesterol Measured
Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms. The best way to find out if your cholesterol is high is to have a blood test .
Visit your GP to determine whether you need to lower your cholesterol level and what action to take.
GPs can also do a heart health check, that calculates your heart disease and stroke risk.
Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
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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Who Should Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- are over the age of 40 people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
Neck Pain And Headaches
Because high cholesterol leads to the blocking of arteries, theres a good chance that the blood flow to and from your head can be disturbed. The result is a sore neck and sudden headaches on an occasional basis, and you might even deal with some pain in your shoulders as well. A nagging headache in the back is a very good indication of excessive cholesterol levels according to doctors.
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What Factors Affect Cholesterol Levels
A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels. They include:
- Diet: Saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in the food you eat increase cholesterol levels. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in your diet. This will help lower your blood cholesterol level. Saturated and trans fat have the most impact on blood cholesterol.
- Weight: In addition to being a risk factor for heart disease, being overweight can also increase your triglycerides. Losing weight may help lower your triglyceride levels and raise your HDL.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can lower total cholesterol levels. Exercise has the most effect on lowering triglycerides and raising HDL. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Age and sex: As we get older,cholesterol levels rise. Before menopause, women tend to have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, however, womens LDL levels tend to rise and HDL can drop.
- Heredity: Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
What Do The Test Results Mean
If you get a lipid profile test, the results will show 4 numbers. A lipid profile measures:
- Total cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
Total cholesterol is a measure of all the cholesterol in your blood. It’s based on the LDL, HDL, and triglycerides numbers.
LDL cholesterol is the bad type of cholesterol that can block your arteries so a lower level is better for you.
HDL cholesterol is the good type of cholesterol that helps clear LDL cholesterol out of your arteries so a higher level is better for you. Having a low HDL cholesterol level can increase your risk for heart disease.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
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Can High Cholesterol Be Prevented Or Avoided
Making healthy food choices and exercising are two ways to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol.
Eat fewer foods with saturated fats . Choose healthier fats. This includes lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy items. Avoid foods that contain trans fat . Look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some egg brands contain omega-3.
Exercise can be simple. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike to work. You could even participate in a team sport. Aim to get 30 minutes of activity every day.
Why Cholesterol Matters For Women
Erin Donnelly Michos, M.D., M.H.S.
Ah, cholesterol and triglycerides. We hear about them all the time. Even foods that might seem good for you on the surface, like fruit-filled yogurt or bran muffins, can contribute to abnormal levels if they contain too much saturated fat or refined sugar, says Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
Whats more, many women are at risk for high cholesterol and dont realize it. Approximately 45 percent of women over the age of 20 have a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and above, which is considered elevated but a survey by the American Heart Association found that 76 percent of women say they dont even know what their cholesterol values are, Michos says.
Scarier still: Triglycerides, a type of blood fat typically measured alongside cholesterol, are even more risky in women compared with men. This is a problem because womens cholesterol levels can fluctuate quite a bit after menopause and tend to increase with age, putting us at greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your cholesterol numbers and how to control them is a big step toward staying healthy.
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Myth #: Eating Foods With High Cholesterol Will Raise Your Cholesterol Levels
The amount and type of fats you consume impact your cholesterol levels more.& nbsp
The Facts: Eating lots of saturated fats and trans fats will raise your cholesterol. This is confusing, because many foods that are high in cholesterol also contain saturated fats. That’s the case with red meat and dairy. If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol levels, make sure that no more than 6% of your daily calories comes from saturated fats.
More About The Symptoms Of Cholesterol
The liver is responsible for producing most of the cholesterol in your body, though you can also absorb it from foods that contain cholesterol. The problem is that, even though many organs need it, too much cholesterol causes irreparable damage. In fact, high cholesterol is a potential killer.
The most worrisome thing is that many are unaware that they have it in high quantities since it isnt usually manifested by blunt symptoms.
Consequently, it can lead to the development of more serious health problems, such as arteriosclerosis, hypertension, and kidney failure. Because of this, its very important to identify any signs that could help detect any problems early on.
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Yellow Growths On Your Eyelids
Do you notice painless yellow growths on your upper and lower eyelids? Their presence is called xanthelasma. Fret not because its something that wont negatively affect your vision. However, xanthelasma is a clear indicator that you have high blood cholesterol. Although those yellow-colored growths can be zapped with the use of acids and lasers, the only way to have them permanently removed is by having your cholesterol levels controlled.
How To Tell If Foods Are Low Or High Cholesterol
Many foods you buy are labeled with nutrition facts, making it easy to detect and limit high-cholesterol foods. But what about foods you purchase that don’t have a label, like deli meat or prepared foods?
Understanding general principles about high-cholesterol foods can help you determine which non-labeled foods might be high in cholesterol.
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How Often Do I Need To Get My Cholesterol Checked
The general recommendation is to get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Some people may need to get their cholesterol checked more or less often depending on their risk of heart disease.
For example, high cholesterol can run in families. If someone in your family has high cholesterol or takes medicine to control cholesterol, you might need to get tested more often. Talk to your doctor about whats best for you.
What Kind Of Test Measures Cholesterol
Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every five years. Your healthcare provider will order a blood test that will indicate how much cholesterol is carried in your bloodstream. This test will give your cholesterol levels. Your provider might also order what is called a lipid panel or a lipid profile. The panel gives you the following numbers:
- Total cholesterol.
- Non-HDL cholesterol.
- Ratio between cholesterol and HDL.
There are advanced tests that break down the size and shapes of LDL cholesterol levels, and also give the LDL particle number, but those are not normally ordered. Some test makers say that the more advanced tests are better at indicating who is at risk for heart disease, but most providers still feel that the usual tests are adequate.
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Living With High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Reducing your LDL bad cholesterol through good diet, exercise, and medicine can make a positive impact on your overall health.
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.
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Getting Your Cholesterol Levels Checked
If youre age 20 years or older, the American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol levels checked at least once every four to six years. If you have a history of high cholesterol or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may encourage you get your cholesterol levels tested more often.
Your doctor can use a lipid panel to measure your total cholesterol level, as well your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Your total cholesterol level is the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood. It includes LDL and HDL cholesterol.
If your levels of total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol are too high, your doctor will diagnose you with high cholesterol. High cholesterol is especially dangerous when your LDL levels are too high and your HDL levels are too low. Find out more about your recommended cholesterol levels.
What Does High Cholesterol Do To The Body
Having high cholesterol can lead to stiffening and narrowing of the arteries. A buildup of plaque a combination of cholesterol, fats, your cells waste products, calcium, and fibrin , explains the American Heart Association can reduce or block blood flow through the arteries. Thats why cholesterol matters: Lack of sufficient blood flow to your brain or heart can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
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If Cholesterol Is Necessary Why Do We Have To Worry About How Much We Have
Having enough cholesterol to meet your needs is important. Having too much cholesterol can cause problems. If your cholesterol levels are high, the condition is called hypercholesterolemia. If your cholesterol levels are low, the condition is called hypocholesterolemia. It is not common to have cholesterol levels that are too low, but it can happen.
Familial Hypercholesterolemia Vs High Cholesterol
If you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling, or grandparent, who has high levels of cholesterol, youre more likely to have it yourself. This is largely due to the passing on of genes from parents to children that increase levels of cholesterol in the blood, such as a gene that codes for a defective receptor. This is known as familial hypercholesterolemia.
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a form of inherited high cholesterol. People with this condition generally have higher cholesterol levels than people without this condition, despite lifestyle choices. Thats because people with this condition arent able to regulate cholesterol levels as efficiently as other people. People with familial hypercholesterolemia cant control their cholesterol through diet and exercise alone, and may instead need to also use medication.
Having a genetic risk for high cholesterol doesnt guarantee that youll have high cholesterol. It just means that you have an increased risk. Let your doctor know about your concerns. They can help you manage your cholesterol and monitor your levels so that if you do develop high cholesterol, you can begin treatment right away.
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Myth #: High Cholesterol Foods Cause Heart Disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that high cholesterol foods raise the risk for heart attack and stroke. However, new research is adding nuance to discussions about cholesterol in foods and heart disease.& nbsp
The Facts: Lots of foods that are high in cholesterol, like red meats and dairy, also contain lots of fatty acids, which are linked to heart disease. New research points out that high-cholesterol foods that don’t have much fat, like eggs and shrimp, don’t contribute to heart disease.
Causes Of High Cholesterol & How To Know If You Have High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is very essential for our body since it is needed to produce hormones, vitamin D and other very essential substance that generally help in digesting the food that we eat. However, too much of cholesterol is also not good for our health as it has many negative impacts on our body. It is important to know the causes of high cholesterol to take necessary action. It is also necessary to know if you have high cholesterol, by doing regular blood tests, so that timely treatment can be planned.
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
There are two main ways to lower your cholesterol:
- Heart-healthy lifestyle changes, which include:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH Eating Plan.
- Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
- Managing stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
- Quitting smoking.Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, having more HDL can help to lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Drug Treatment. If lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol medicines available, including statins. The medicines work in different ways and can have different side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which one is right for you. While you are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol, you should continue with the lifestyle changes.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Pain In The Neck And Back Of The Head
Since cholesterol levels that are way too high can cause some of your blood vessels to become blocked, it is very much possible for circulation to your head to be hampered. Such can leave your neck feeling sore and achy from time to time. The shoulder, too, may feel the same way. Medical doctors say that having high blood cholesterol may also make you susceptible to having a nagging headache, in particular in the back of your head.
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