Ways To Lower Cholesterol
First, check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
Make healthy living a family effort. Improving your lifestyle now will benefit everyone’s health now and far into the future.
Check To See What’s Working
During regular screening appointments, your doctor will check your cholesterol levels to see if the changes youÃ¢â¬â¢ve made have gotten you to your cholesterol goal.
If lifestyle changes arenÃ¢â¬â¢t enough to lower borderline high cholesterol, your doctor may talk to you about medication.
Cholesterol Myths And Facts
Cholesterol can be confusing! Learn answers to common questions about blood cholesterol.
What do your cholesterol numbers mean? Can the foods you eat change your cholesterol levels?
Learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. Then commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
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What Is The Difference Between Hdl And Ldl Cholesterol
Cholesterol doesnt dissolve in blood. To be transported in the bloodstream, cholesterol is packed into two types of carriers: low-density lipoproteins or high-density lipoproteins . LDL cholesterol, which is sometimes known as bad cholesterol, is necessary in limited quantities , but high LDL cholesterol levels can dramatically increase your risk of a heart attack. Thats because LDL particles can contribute to atherosclerosisor clogged arteries. HDL cholesterolsometimes called good cholesterolhelps clear LDL cholesterol from the arteries.
When doctors measure cholesterol levels, they first look at total cholesterol as a quick way to assess a persons risk. For a more exact guide, they divide the total level by the HDL level. Heart attack risk is minimized by having a lower total cholesterol and a higher proportion of HDL cholesterol. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 4 to 1.
Unfortunately, the average American man has a ratio of 5 to 1. Vegetarians, on the other hand, average about 3 to 1. Smoking and obesity lower HDL vigorous exercise and foods rich in vitamin C may increase it.
Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.
So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
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What Treatments Are Recommended If My Level Is Too High
One treatment option is to adopt a lifestyle that will help lower your levels, one including exercise and a diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fat. If diet and exercise alone cannot lower cholesterol enough, drugs are often recommended and usually aim to lower LDL-C levels specifically. Sometimes, two different drugs are used together to treat people with extremely high cholesterol levels. The drug of choice differs for different people although the most commonly used lipid-lowering drugs are statins. Your healthcare practitioner will need to take into account your individual situation before prescribing any cholesterol-lowering drug.
What Is My Risk Of A Heart Attack If I Have High Cholesterol
High cholesterol increases your risk of a heart attack. The higher the cholesterol, the higher the risk. However, many other factors also affect your risk of a heart attack, such as smoking, diabetes, age, and high blood pressure. For more information on related risk factors, read the American Heart Association’s article Understand Your Risk for High Cholesterol.
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Cholesterol Numbers Are In Heres What You Should Know
U.S. President Donald Trump recently underwent his first physical exam since taking office and was . Despite a clean bill of health, it also was noted that the President has a history of elevated cholesterol numbers, prompting HCA Healthcare Today to dig further into the common condition.
Anil Purohit, MD, a non-invasive cardiologist at HCA Healthcares Grand Strand Medical Center, sheds some light on what it means to have elevated cholesterol levels and the number of Americans affected.
Many feel that the number of people affected by high cholesterol is underestimated. Its anywhere between 100 to 102 million Americans who are diagnosed with this condition, said Dr. Purohit, who focuses on preventative cardiology at Grand Strand Heart and Vascular Care. Unfortunately about 40 percent of the population are underdiagnosed and undertreated with prescribed medications.
We asked Dr. Purohit a few more questions about cholesterol the good and bad and advice on ways to help reduce high levels below.
What is cholesterol?
It is a substance produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream. It is not all bad its actually used for a wide variety of bodily functions. Its responsible for maintaining the skin and developing hormones, for instance, so you need cholesterol in order to survive and for your body to keep building.
How does cholesterol travel in the blood?
What are normal cholesterol levels?
Why is LDL considered the bad cholesterol?
Other Factors That Affect Blood Cholesterol
The CDC point outs that some health conditions and lifestyle factors can raise cholesterol levels. It says that type 2 diabetes, for example, raises LDL cholesterol levels, as does familial hypercholesterolemia.
The CDC also states that having a diet high in saturated fats and getting low levels of exercise may contribute to high cholesterol levels.In addition, it acknowledges that having family members with high cholesterol increases a persons risk.
The NIH recommends consulting a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise plan, but overall, it advises a person to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Having a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise can also bring down high cholesterol levels in children.
Generally, the earlier a person starts making these changes, the better for their cholesterol levels, as cholesterol builds up over time.
High cholesterol at any age increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These risks only increase over time.
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How Do You Measure Total Cholesterol
Total cholesterol is typically measured by a blood test, also called a lipid profile or lipid panel, ordered by your doctor. To get an accurate reading, you’re typically asked to fast for at least 8 to 10 hours prior to the test.
You can also measure total cholesterol levels at home with a digital cholesterol meter. To use one, you typically prick a finger with a lancet or fingerstick, add a drop of blood to a test strip, and insert the strip into the meter. While convenient, the reliability of readings from at-home cholesterol meters is debated.
How Cholesterol Levels Affect Your Health
Your body needs cholesterol to function normally, but it becomes a problem when there is too much bad cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol can join with other substances, such as calcium or fat, and create thick deposits inside your arteries.
Plaque can lead to atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of thick deposits in the blood vessels. Over time, the buildup of plaque can make the arteries narrower and clogged. This makes it harder for blood to move through the arteries.
Too much cholesterol in your body and plaques may eventually cause:
- Clot blocking the flow of blood to the heart
- Clot blocking the flow of blood to the head
- Narrow and blocked coronary arteries that move blood to your heart
- Narrow and blocked carotid arteries that move blood to your head
- Narrow and blocked arteries that move blood to your limbs
- Sudden stopping of the heart
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Getting Help For Your Child
If you are worried about your child’s weight, consider consulting with a registered dietitian or expressing your concerns with your pediatrician.
Children can benefit from getting involved in meal planning, shopping, and cooking, reducing intake of sweetened beverages, and learning how to eat more fruits and vegetables. Being a good role model and getting the entire family on board is also important for making changes and providing your child with confidence.
Myth: All Cholesterol Is Bad For You
Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, makes up most of your bodys cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL , or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina or a heart attack.
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How Do You Measure Ldl
LDL is typically measured by a blood test, also called a lipid profile or lipid panel, ordered by your doctor. To get an accurate reading, you’re typically asked to fast for at least 8 to 10 hours prior to the test.
You can also measure LDL levels at home with a digital cholesterol meter. To use one, you typically prick a finger with a lancet or fingerstick, add a drop of blood to a test strip, and insert the strip into the meter. While convenient, the reliability of readings from at-home cholesterol meters is debated.
Your Test Results: A Preview
Your test results will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood . Your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are among numerous factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will also consider other risk factors, such as age, family history, smoking status, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Lipid profile or lipid panel is a blood test that will give you results for your HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total blood cholesterol.
Watch an animation about cholesterol score.
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Why Do You Need Cholesterol
I have been trying for years, decades actually, to raise my cholesterol. Finally after a more significant change in diet, its happening and thats a good thing. You see, low cholesterol is often much more dangerous than high cholesterol even though were led to believe that cholesterol is evil. A cholesterol level below 160 mg/dl is said to increase ones risk of many cancers, stroke, neurological problems such as memory loss and dementia, and many other health problems ranging from digestive to hormonal. I often tell a patient that if they had to pick one, high cholesterol is better than low. Of course, a healthy level is best which is based off the components that make up cholesterol as discussed below.
Some notable cholesterol functions:
About 20 years ago my total cholesterol level dropped to 92 mg/dl. I was a student at the University of Miami, well known for its pre-med program. The leading physician at the student health center at that time thought I was extremely healthy I had the best cholesterol level he had ever seen. As nice as he was, this unenlightened doctor did not realize that it was actually perhaps one of the worst he had discovered. I, at the time, knew no better and clearly didnt know the dangers of such a low level. I was training hard, studying hard, and following the low-fat, high carbohydrate diet of the late 1980s-early 1990s.
Cholesterol Levels For Adults
A doctor may classify a persons levels as high or low, borderline, or healthy.
Total cholesterol levels under 200 mg/dl are healthy for adults. Doctors treat readings of 200239 mg/dl as borderline high, and readings of at least 240 mg/dl as high.
Ideally, LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dl. Doctors may not express concern about levels of 100129 mg/dl for people with no health issues, but they may suggest treatment at this stage for people with heart disease or its risk factors.
If a persons reading is 130159 mg/dl, it is borderline high, while readings of 160189 mg/dl are high. A reading of at least 190 mg/dl is very high.
Doctors recommend keeping HDL levels higher. People with a reading of less than 40 mg/dl may have a risk of heart disease.
If a persons reading is 4159 mg/dl, doctors consider this borderline low. Optimal HDL levels are 60 mg/dl or higher.
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Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
What Are The Treatments For High Cholesterol In Children And Teens
Lifestyle changes are the main treatment for high cholesterol in children and teens. These changes include:
- Being more active. This includes getting regular exercise and spending less time sitting
- Healthy eating. A diet to lower cholesterol includes limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar, and trans fat. It is also important to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Losing weight, if your child or teen is overweight or has obesity
If everyone in the family makes these changes, it will be easier for your child or teen to stick to them. It is also an opportunity to improve your health, and the health of the rest of your family.
Sometimes these lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your child or teen’s cholesterol. Your health care provider may consider giving your child or teen cholesterol medicines if he or she:
- Is at least 10 years old
- Has an LDL cholesterol level that is higher than 190 mg/dL, even after six months of diet and exercise changes
- Has an LDL cholesterol level that is higher than 160 mg/dL AND is at high risk for heart disease
- Has an inherited type of high cholesterol
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How Cholesterol Levels Are Measured
You may not feel any symptoms of high cholesterol until you develop more serious health problems. This is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels measured on a regular basis.
A blood test called a lipid or lipoprotein panel will show your cholesterol levels and help your healthcare provider decide if you need treatment.
The blood test measures:
- Total cholesterol:The total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including HDL and LDL
- High-density lipoprotein, or HDL: It is called “good” cholesterol and is capable of removing cholesterol from your body by moving it to the liver.
- Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL: It is called “bad” cholesterol and can cause plaque buildup.
- Non-HDL cholesterol: It is found by subtracting HDL from total cholesterol. It includes LDL and VLDL .
- Triglycerides: A type of fat that can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease