What Are Normal Blood Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels, measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, are categorized as optimal, near optimal, borderline, high, and very high. What are considered healthy, normal levels?
While individual health factors can influence whats considered healthy, typically doctors want to see:
- Total: For people 19 and younger, less than 170 mg/dL is healthy. This number becomes a range of 125-200 mg/dL in men and women 20 and older.
- Non-HDL: Nineteen-year-olds and younger should have less than 120 mg/dL of this type, and this figure jumps to 130 mg/dL for adults.
- LDL: In men and women 20 and upas well as those youngerlevels smaller than 100 mg/dL are considered within a healthy range.
- HDL: Those 19 and younger should have an HDL of greater than 45 mg/dL. In adult men, this figure should be at least 40 mg/dL, with the healthy range climbing to 50 mg/dL or higher for women.
Are Test Results Accurate
While no test is always accurate, measurements of blood cholesterol are an effective tool for estimating your risk of cardiovascular disease. Various factors can affect the accuracy of a cholesterol test:
- Direct vs calculated testing: While calculated LDL cholesterol levels are sufficient in most cases, direct testing provides more accurate results in patients with elevated triglyceride levels. Patients who may have elevated triglyceride levels include those diagnosed with type II diabetes or obesity, patients with a history of considerable alcohol intake, and patients taking medication to increase triglycerides.
- Fasting: In most cases, a lipid profile requires fasting. Eating within 8-12 hours before a lipid panel may increase the level of triglycerides in your bloodstream. Because this increased level of triglycerides could affect the accuracy of calculated LDL cholesterol values, your doctor may request that you refrain from eating prior to your blood draw.
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How Will My Doctor Use Results From My Cholesterol Test
After reviewing your blood test, The doctor will also consider other risk factors you might have for heart disease, including:
- Your family history
- History of diabetes
- Evidence of elevated blood sugars
Then, your doctor will talk with you about your level of risk and the potential benefit to be derived by taking steps that include changes in your level of activity and diet as well as using medication to improve your cholesterol levels in order to reduce your overall risk.
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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.
Should You Fast Before A Cholesterol Test
Ideally, you should fast before a cholesterol test. Fasting means not eating or drinking anything except water for up to 8-12 hours before your test. Doing your test in the morning can make this part of the process easier.
Fasting is important because a recent meal could affect your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
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How To Read Your Lipid Panel Results
Most people dont think about their cholesterol levels until a doctor orders a lipid panel for them. There are no symptoms of having high cholesterol. Thats how you can go from living your life normally one day and having your whole world turned upside down the next. If your lipid panel results come back high, what do you do? Heck, what does these numbers even mean? And while were at it, whats a lipid anyway?
Lets take that last one first. Lipids are fat-like substances found in your blood and body tissues. You need them in order for your body to function at all. There are several types of lipids in our bodies. While they are usually used as a substitution for the word fats, the strict definition is a substance that can dissolve in alcohol, but not in water. Cholesterol and triglycerides are considered lipids, but so are fatty acids and steroids.
For a long time, cholesterol was considered just one thing. Then, it was broken down into good cholesterol, which is really HDL, which stands for High Density Lipoprotein and bad cholesterol, which is really LDL, which stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. Cholesterol as a whole is not bad. Part of why there are diets that recommend avoiding cholesterol in your foods is because our livers actually make all the cholesterol we need to build cells. So, whatever cholesterol our bodies get from food is above and beyond what we need.
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Cholesterol Levels For Adults
- Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
- LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be of more concern for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors. A reading of 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high and 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. A reading of 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- HDL levels should be kept higher. A reading of less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. A reading from 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL is considered borderline low. The optimal reading for HDL levels is of 60 mg/dL or higher.
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Cholesterol Test What Is It And What Is It For
A cholesterol test is a laboratory method used to evaluate blood cholesterol levels. Several parameters are measured and compared with different ranges or average values in this analysis. Reading a cholesterol test can lead to confusion in evaluating what action to take.
When reading a cholesterol test, at least four indicators should be considered. HDL, LDL, VLDL, and total cholesterol. In addition, it is usually complemented with the results of triglycerides in the blood. While personalized evaluation by your GP is suggested, a cholesterol test can be interpreted according to the steps listed below.
Should I Stop Drinking If I Have High Cholesterol
Cutting down on alcohol will help your liver to work better at removing bad cholesterol. It may also improve your heart health in other ways by helping you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Our top tips for drinking alcohol are to:
- drink less than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have a few days each week where you dont drink at all
- avoid binge drinking by drinking half what you usually would
- order a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Read more of our advice on alcohol.By making some of these small changes you should see your cholesterol levels go down.
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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.
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
- total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio the level of good cholesterol in your blood compared to your overall cholesterol level
- 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, triglycerides, and your total cholesterol to HDL ratio. Ask your doctor or nurse.
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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.
However, according to 2018 guidelines published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a nonfasting test can accurately detect high cholesterol or lipids in adults over age 20 who arent taking medications to lower their lipid levels.
If you do need to fast, you should avoid eating or drinking anything other than water for 9 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 heart health history
- 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.
How To Prepare For The Test
Theres not too much that goes into preparing for a cholesterol test. Whenever you go in for medical visit, its a good idea to come early and bring a list of any medications or supplements youre taking. Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing so that you dont put pressure on the site of collection when leaving. In addition, you may be asked to steer clear of any food or drink for 912 hours before the test.
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How To Get More Active
There are lots of ways to be active. You dont have to use a gym or join the local football team if its not your cup of tea. Instead, see where you can fit extra bursts of activity into your day.
It can be more fun being active with others. Why not organise a regular walk or swim, or arrange a trip to the park or a nature ramble with family and friends?
Find things that you enjoy doing so that youre more likely to stick with them in the long term. Make them part of your routine and form new healthy habits.
You can also visit NHS ONE YOU. They have lots of ideas and support for getting active, including a free app, ways to get fit for free at home, and Couch to 5K a plan to take you from total beginner to running 5K in 9 weeks.
How Often Do You Have To Have A Cholesterol Test
The number of times a cholesterol test needs to be done can vary depending on a persons age, sex, and health. As general recommendations, it is suggested:
- Under 18 years: 1 analysis at 11 years and 16 years.
- Between 18-45 years: 1 analysis every five years
- Over 45 years: 1 study every two years. In men, it is recommended to increase the frequency from 45 in women to 55.
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What Is Ldl Cholesterol
There are different types of cholesterol which have different effects in the body. You might hear your healthcare professional talk about LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, which are the two main types.
LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol because too much of it can clog up your arteries and lead to health problems later on, such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. You do need some LDL cholesterol in your blood. Its when theres too much that its a problem.
HDL cholesterol is often called good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol away from your cells, back to your liver to be broken down. So, it helps prevent disease.
What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels
Normal cholesterol levels vary based on your age and sex assigned at birth.
Normal cholesterol levels by age chart
The chart below shows normal cholesterol levels. Healthcare providers consider these numbers healthy for most people. If you have heart disease or many risk factors, your LDL target may be different. Your healthcare provider may want your LDL level to be below 70 mg/dL. So, its important to talk with your provider about your test results and what they mean for you.
All units in the chart below are mg/dL.
People assigned male at birth: 40 or higher
People assigned female at birth: 50 or higher
As you review your results, remember that you want your LDL to be low and your HDL to be high. Ideally, your HDL should be above 60. Its the helpful cholesterol. An HDL above 60 offers you protection against heart disease.
Most normal cholesterol levels are the same regardless of your sex. But there is one key difference among adults. Thats your HDL number. As the chart above shows, people assigned female at birth need a higher HDL level compared with people assigned male at birth .
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How Do Triglycerides Get Into The Blood
When we eat foods containing triglycerides, such as meat, dairy products, cooking oils and fats, they are absorbed by our intestines and packaged into parcels of fats and protein called chylomicrons . These carry the triglycerides in the blood stream to our tissues to be used for energy straight away, or stored for later.
The body also makes its own supply of triglycerides in the liver. This form is carried in a different type of lipoprotein known as VLDL cholesterol.
Lower Your Cholesterol Whether Youre Eating Breakfast Lunch Dinner Dessert Or Even A Snack
Did you know cholesterol in food only plays a small part in increasing our bodies cholesterol levels? But what we eat has a big role to play in managing our cholesterol and heart health.Consistently poor eating habits, combined with a lack of physical activity can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which can also raise levels of unhealthy cholesterol levels and lower levels of HDL cholesterol which can negatively affect your heart health.
High-density lipoprotein is often called the good cholesterol because it helps to remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream and helps to keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries. Low-density lipoprotein is often called the bad cholesterol because it is the main source of cholesterol build-up and blockage in the arteries.
Time and time again we hear that balance is the key to health. There are some foods that can improve LDL cholesterol levels and eating these foods in moderate amounts can help keep us fighting fit. Foods containing healthier fats or soluble fibre are great examples of this. So with this in mind, here are some delicious ideas that can help you eat your way to a healthier heart.
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Do You Need To Lower Your Cholesterol And Triglycerides
If you have high cholesterol, high triglycerides or an unhealthy balance of blood fats, your doctor will probably recommend bringing these levels down with lifestyle changes and sometimes treatments.
They should look at your results in relation to any other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, being overweight, smoking, and other health conditions such as diabetes.
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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When Should You Be Tested
Everyone should have their first screening test by age 35 for men, and age 45 for women. Some guidelines recommend starting at age 20.
You should have a cholesterol test done at an earlier age if you have:
- A strong family history of heart disease
Follow-up testing should be done:
- 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.
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
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