Causes Of Changing Cholesterol Levels
Your cholesterol levels will change as you age, most likely increasing. There are a number of causes for changing cholesterol levels. They include:
If you eat foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, it will make your total cholesterol level rise. The saturated fat is the main cause. This type of fat comes mainly from animal food products. You can find it in meat, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried foods, and processed foods. These foods make up a typical American diet, and consuming a lot of these foods is cautioned against.
Weight and physical activity
If you are overweight, your risk for heart disease increases and so do your cholesterol levels. Not being physically active also contributes to a risk for heart disease and high cholesterol levels. Exercising daily and losing weight can help lower your bad cholesterol, LDL, and increase your good cholesterol, HDL.
Smoking can lower your good cholesterol, HDL, making it harder for your body to remove cholesterol from your arteries.
Age and gender
As you age, your total cholesterol levels increase. Women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. But when a woman goes through menopause, her bad cholesterol, LDL, tends to rise.
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.
Do You Need To Lower Your Cholesterol And Triglycerides
Your doctor should look at your results in relation to any other risk factors for heart disease you may have such as high blood pressure, being overweight or smoking, as well as other health conditions such as diabetes.
You May Like: Mussels And Cholesterol
When Should I Get Ldl Cholesterol Testing
LDL cholesterol testing may be used to assess your risk of cardiovascular disease or monitor changes in cholesterol over time.
Doctors will take factors such as age, family history, and other medical conditions when determining how often you should check your levels of LDL cholesterol. Examples of common screening recommendations are outlined below:
|With or without risk factors||Annually|
Having your cholesterol levels checked at regular intervals gives doctors a chance to notice any changes that could become harmful to your health. High or increasing cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, among other conditions.
Doctors may want to test your cholesterol levels more regularly if you or your family have a history of heart disease, smoking, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or a diet high in saturated fat.
Interpreting Your Cholesterol Numbers
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood in the United States and some other countries. Canada and most European countries measure cholesterol in millimoles per liter of blood. Consider these general guidelines when you get your cholesterol test results to see if your cholesterol falls in an ideal range.
|Total cholesterol||Total cholesterol*|
|Below 200 mg/dL|
|Below 70 mg/dL||Ideal for people at very high risk of heart disease|
|Below 100 mg/dL||Ideal for people at risk of heart disease|
|Below 40 mg/dL|
|Below 150 mg/dL|
|Above 5.6 mmol/L and above||Very high|
*Canadian and European guidelines differ slightly from U.S. guidelines. These conversions are based on U.S. guidelines.
The American Heart Association recommends that a triglyceride level of 100 mg/dL or lower is considered optimal. The AHA says this optimal level would improve your heart health. However, the AHA doesnt recommend drug treatment to reach this level. Instead, for those trying to lower their triglycerides to this level, lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss and physical activity are encouraged. Elevated triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes.
Recommended Reading: How Much Cholesterol In Tuna
Why Is Ldl Cholesterol Still More Commonly Used Than Non
If non-HDL-C is a better indicator of cardiovascular risk than LDL-C and available with no additional cost or testing, the obvious question is: why is LDL-C still so commonly used instead?
That very question was addressed by the medical journalist, Larry Husten, in an article on MedPage Today.
In the article, Hudsen quotes an editorial from the New England Journal of Medicine, in which its author, Robert Heagele, writes that non-HDL-C is stable and reliable at very low levels and regardless of whether patients are tested while fasting. Furthermore, the non-HDL cholesterol level integrates all atherogenic lipoproteins, correlates well with apolipoprotein B, and predicts cardiovascular risk better than the LDL cholesterol level.
Although non-HDL-C and LDL-C often track closely, they diverge more prominently in people living with obesity, diabetes, and high triglycerides. For those people, non-HDL-C provides the greatest benefit over LDL-C.
However, it seems as though using LDL-C is so deeply ingrained in as common practice, that clinicians continue to do so even when the tools they use present non-HDL-C levels automatically.
The justification behind such an opinion, it seems, it that lipid values are but one of the markers used to determine cardiovascular risk. Other tests, such as electrocardiograms and blood tests, along with other risk factors such as blood pressure, smoking, and obesity, can all be used to determine ones cardiovascular risk profile.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol doesnât have symptoms. So you can be unaware that your levels are getting too high. Thatâs why itâs important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are. If they’re too high, lowering them will lessen your risk for getting heart disease. And if you already have heart disease, lowering cholesterol can reduce your odds of a heart attack or of dying from heart disease.
Read Also: Shellfish High In Cholesterol
The Best Cholesterol Risk Indicator
So to summarise, weve seen that your risk of heart disease will be lower if your blood sugars are lower. While stabilising your blood sugars is an essential first step , delaying your meals until your blood sugars are lower using Data-Driven Fasting may be more helpful.
If your blood sugars are elevated in the morning, then theres a good chance you are above your Personal Fat Threshold and need to lose some body fat. Once your blood sugars after meals start to stabilise, you should focus on high satiety, nutrient-dense foods and meals to help you continue to reduce your body fat, which will, in turn, reduce your fasting blood sugar levels.
What Is A Healthy Cholesterol Level
This table is a general guide for ideal cholesterol and triglyceride levels for healthy adults in the UK. If you have a condition such as heart disease or diabetes, your target levels may be lower your doctor will be able to tell you your individual targets.
|Above 6 is considered high risk – the lower this figure is the better||Above 6 is considered high risk – the lower this figure is the better|
Recommended Reading: Does Shrimp Have Good Or Bad Cholesterol
How Often To Get Tested
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , most healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years.
Your risk factors also determine how often your cholesterol should be checked. Adults who have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity need more frequent readings, as do all adults as they age.
Children should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 20 years of age. If a child has a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or is overweight or obese, their pediatrician may recommend getting checked sooner and more often.
Effects Of High Cholesterol Levels
The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol and dietary fat. When we eat animal fats, the liver transports the fat, together with cholesterol in the form of lipoproteins, into our bloodstream.
Too much cholesterol circulating within LDL in our bloodstream leads to fatty deposits developing in the arteries. This causes the vessels to narrow and they can eventually become blocked. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Don’t Miss: Tuna Fish Cholesterol
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
Read Also: Beer Raise Cholesterol
Know Your Cholesterol Numbers
People are always told they should have regular cholesterol tests, as high cholesterol levels could have an impact on your heart health and your stroke risk.
But how do you make sense of the test results once you have received them?
Your total cholesterol level is the simplest chemical test of the liquid part of the blood – serum or plasma. This is also the sum of the cholesterol in all the different particles carrying cholesterol.
The most important particles are LDL , HDL and the triglyceride-rich particles carry some cholesterol as well.
What are triglycerides?
In short, this is the major form of fat stored by your body, and it is made up of three fatty acids and the fairly simple small molecule, glycerol.
The body produces cholesterol, and you also get it from the food you eat. Digestion of food makes the cholesterol and triglyceride available for absorption and transport in lipoproteins from the gut which are present in the blood for a few hours after a meal. The liver is responsible for most of the other lipoproteins.
The LDL is the “bad” cholesterol as it is associated with disease. HDL helps to remove cholesterol from tissues and transports it through your bloodstream, making it the “good” cholesterol as higher concentrations are associated with lower risk.
High cholesterol levels increase your chances of a heart attack or stroke as a result of a build-up of plaque inside the arteries.
High HDL cholesterol
You May Like: Cholesterol Hydrophilic Or Hydrophobic
Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
How To Lower Cholesterol: Smart Protein
To reduce cholesterol, limit red meat and eat more fish and lean poultry.
How to Prepare Healthy Proteins
- Trim all fat from meats, and remove all skin from poultry before cooking.
- Broil or bake, don’t fry foods.
- Drain fat from any meats before serving.
- Avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or cold cuts, even those labeled “reduced fat,” as many are still high in saturated fats and calories.
- Oily fish such as salmon or trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce triglyceride levels and improve HDL cholesterol levels.
- Soy proteins can also have a beneficial effect and help to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
Don’t Miss: Normal Ldl Levels Female
What Are Normal Levels Of Cholesterol
Normal levels of cholesterol are different depending on your age and sex. These guidelines show desirable total, non-HDL, LDL and HDL levels by age and sex.
Table 1: Target cholesterol levels by age and sex
|Age and sex|
People aged 19 years and younger Men aged 20 years and olderWomen aged 20 years and older
The table above spells out the numbers for normal cholesterol levels. The table below shows cholesterol levels that are higher than normal. High cholesterol numbers vary by age group and sex and may be different for those who have heart disease. These guidelines represent high cholesterol numbers for those who do not have heart disease.
Table 2: High total, non-HDL and LDL cholesterol levels by age and sex
|Age and sex|
|People aged 19 years and younger|
Borderline: 170-199 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL
Borderline: 120-144 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 145 mg/dL
Borderline: 110-129 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 130 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL
Near optimal or above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL
Very high: Greater than 189 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL
Near optimal or above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL
Very high: Greater than 189 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol levels
If you do not have heart disease or blood vessel disease, and you are not at high risk for developing heart disease, the optimal number is less than 100 mg/dL.
How Low Should We Decrease Ldl
The association between blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease has been consistently demonstrated in epidemiological studies within all ranges of studied cholesterol levels.1 Statins have been the mainstay therapy for low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol reduction and subsequent prevention of CV events. In fact, after the first year of statin use, each 1 mmol/L of reduction in LDL-C leads to a 20-25% relative reduction of global CV risk, including a 20% decrease in coronary mortality.2,3
Whereas this degree of relative risk reduction is largely independent of baseline characteristics,2,4,5 the net benefit or absolute risk reduction achieved with lowering LDL-C levels is highly dependent on baseline CV risk. As an example, a reduction in LDL-C of 1 mmol/L and subsequent 25% relative reduction in CV risk will translate into 1% versus 5% absolute risk reduction in patients with a 10-year estimated risk of 4% and 20%, respectively. For this reason, guidelines across the globe recommend CV risk assessment and tailoring the aggressiveness of lipid lowering therapies to such risk.6-10
Recommended Reading: Do Ritz Crackers Have Fiber
Cholesterol Levels: What Numbers Should You Aim For
December 5, 2014 by Dr. Williams
Figuring out the best cholesterol levels to aim for can be confusing. But heres some help setting your cholesterol number targets.
Its important to keep your cholesterol levels within healthy limits. If you have other risk factors for developing heart disease, you need to be even more careful especially with your low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol level.
How Can I Raise My Hdl Level
If your HDL level is too low, lifestyle changes may help. These changes may also help prevent other diseases, and make you feel better overall:
- Eat a healthy diet. To raise your HDL level, you need to eat good fats instead of bad fats. This means limiting saturated fats, which include full-fat milk and cheese, high-fat meats like sausage and bacon, and foods made with butter, lard, and shortening. You should also avoid trans fats, which may be in some margarines, fried foods, and processed foods like baked goods. Instead, eat unsaturated fats, which are found in avocado, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts. Limit carbohydrates, especially sugar. Also try to eat more foods naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans.
- Stay at a healthy weight. You can boost your HDL level by losing weight, especially if you have lots of fat around your waist.
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise can raise your HDL level, as well as lower your LDL. You should try to do 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days.
- Avoid cigarettes.Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can lower your HDL level. If you are a smoker, ask your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit. You should also try to avoid secondhand smoke.
- Limit alcohol. Moderate alcohol may lower your HDL level, although more studies are needed to confirm that. What we do know is that too much alcohol can make you gain weight, and that lowers your HDL level.
Recommended Reading: Cholesterol In Egg Beaters