Why Is Cholesterol Important To Our Bodies
Every cell in the body needs cholesterol, which helps the cell membranes form the layers. These layers protect the contents of the cell by acting as the gatekeeper to what things can enter or leave the cell. It is made by the liver and is also used by the liver to make bile, which helps you digest foods. Cholesterol is also needed to make certain hormones and to produce vitamin D. Your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet your bodys needs for these important functions.
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.
Is A Cholesterol Level 68 Too High And Are Diet Changes Req
Is a Cholesterol level 6.8 too high and are diet changes required.
Below 5.2 is considered desirableBetween 5.2 and 6.2 is considered borderline highAbove 6.2 is considered high.
So, yes, you 6.8 is high.
You may be able to lower that with dietary changes … the predominant one being to cut back on fats. Even a normal healthy intake of fats and oils is only 60 gm per day and a lot of people exceed that with crisps, chips, bangers etc. Watch out in particular for saturated fats.
Also a reduction in sugars can help because there is a belief that excess sugars promote inflammation in the arteries which the cholesterol particles adhere to, causing blockages.
Note that the total cholesterol number is imporant, but the breakdown of the total cholesterol panel is important. The ratio of Low Density Lipoproteins to High Density Lipoproteins is important in predicting risk from the cholesterol.
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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.
What Does A Cholesterol Check Involve
A cholesterol test involves a a simple blood test, this can be done in two ways:
You can eat and drink normally before your test unless your doctor asks you not to. If you have a sample taken with a needle and syringe, you might be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours beforehand, usually overnight.
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Good Cholesterol Vs Bad Cholesterol
In order to understand cholesterol ratios, it’s good to know a bit more about the different types of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is crucial for the body to function properly, according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. You may think that all cholesterol is “bad.” But the truth is that only some kinds of cholesterol are a health concern, and then only in high quantities.
Low-density lipoproteins are the so-called “bad” kind of cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association . If there is too much LDL in the bloodstream, it can combine with other substances like calcium and form deposits on the artery walls. These deposits called plaque narrow and stiffen the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis significantly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
High-density lipoproteins are the “good” kind of cholesterol, per the AHA. HDL moves through the bloodstream and picks up excess LDL particles before returning them to the liver for disposal. In this way, HDL helps prevent plaque buildup and heart disease.
What Is The Difference Between Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein . It removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol.
If your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL level, you may be at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. But, if your total cholesterol level is high only because of a high HDL level, youre probably not at higher risk.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. When you eat more calories than your body can use, it turns the extra calories into triglycerides.
Changing your lifestyle can improve your cholesterol levels, lower LDL and triglycerides, and raise HDL.
Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart disease.
- Total cholesterol level less than 200 is best, but it depends on your HDL and LDL levels.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 130 is best, but this depends on your risk for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol levels 60 or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides less than 150 milligrams per deciliter is best.
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Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Cholesterol
- Increase your activity levels…
- Try using the stairs instead of lifts or escalators
- Park away from the shops or your worklplace and walk the rest of the way
- Go for a walk during your lunch break
- Team up with a friend and get an allotment
- Get more active as a family – try cycling, swimming, park rambles or taking the dog for a walk.
Take a look at our wellbeing hub for inspiration, motivation and expert tips to help you eat, move and live your way to better health.
Or visit our heart centre for more information about heart related conditions and simple steps you can take to stay heart healthy.
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
Getting A Cholesterol Test
We recommend that all adults should get a cholesterol check no matter what your age or how healthy you feel.
The only way to know your cholesterol levels is to get a check. High cholesterol doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms and it can be caused by your genes as well as your lifestyle, so we advise getting a check even if you are young, fit and feel healthy.
A cholesterol check involves a simple blood test.
Your doctor should also check another blood fat called triglycerides, as these also affect your heart health.
A test will show you if you need to make healthy changes. High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A cholesterol test, along with other simple tests including a blood pressure test, BMI and waist measurement, will give you a good idea of your heart health and show you if you need to make any lifestyle changes or need treatment.
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What Types Of Cholesterol Are There
There are two different types of cholesterol including:
- “Bad Cholesterol” which carry cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol is bad because it builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow which can increase the risk of a heart attack.
- “Good Cholesterol” which picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver. Having high HDL is linked to lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
What Happens During A Cholesterol Test
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Cholesterol tests are usually done in the morning, as you may be asked to refrain from eating for several hours prior to the test.
You may also be able to use an at-home kit to test for cholesterol. While instructions may vary between brands, your kit will include some kind of device to prick your finger. Youll use this device to collect a drop of blood for testing. Be sure to follow the kit instructions carefully.
Also, be sure to tell your health care provider if your at-home test results shown your cholesterol level is higher than 200 mg/dl.
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How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Lipid Panel
A lipid panel always includes a measurement of HDL cholesterol, but HDL cholesterol levels can be tested without doing a full lipid panel.
A standard lipid panel measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. It then uses those measurements to calculate the amount of LDL cholesterol.
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.
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What Affects Cholesterol Levels
There are a variety of factors that can affect cholesterol levels. Some risk factors are within your control, while others are not:
- Genetics: These factors include familial hypercholesterolemia and a family history of heart disease.
- Sex: Males often have higher levels of LDL. After menopause, a woman’s LDL levels can also increase.
- Weight: People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of having high cholesterol.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can increase the risk of overweight and obesity and, in turn, increase cholesterol levels.
- Diet: Overall diet quality can affect cholesterol in a negative way, including eating too many saturated and trans fats and not enough fiber.
- Age: Your body’s ability to clear cholesterol can be impacted as you age.
- Race and ethnicity: There are different rates of high cholesterol based on race/ethnicity and sex, with the highest rates among males in Hispanics and the highest rates among females in non-Hispanic Whites.
- Smoking: Smoking can increase your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol.
- Other medical conditions: Having a previous history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.
Understanding Your Cholesterol Results
When you get your cholesterol result from your doctor, it’s split into a variety of different measurements.
- TC which stands for total cholesterol and should ideally be below 5 millimoles per litre of blood
- LDL , which should be less than 3mmols/l
- HDL . This should read more than 1mmol/l for men and 1.2 mmol/l for women
- A fasting triglyceride sample, which should be 2 mmols/l or less
- A non-fasting triglyceride result, which should be 4 mmols/l or less.
Total cholesterol of 5.8mmols/l is higher than recommended, but could be reduced with simple diet and lifestyle changes rather than medical treatment. Medical treatment would only be appropriate if the level was much higher.
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What’s Considered As Normal Cholesterol Levels
Many factors influence what your personal cholesterol or lipid targets should be, and so cholesterol tests should be interpreted in the context of your personal risk.
Your doctor can help you understand your results and guide you on strategies to not only lower your cholesterol but lower your risk of heart disease.
Why Is High Cholesterol A Problem
Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can harden arteries and promote fatty deposits within these arteries, potentially leading to dangerous blockages and narrowing over time called atherosclerosis.
If the blood vessels leading to your heart become too clogged, blood supply to your heart is reduced, which can lead to symptoms such as angina . If the artery becomes completely blocked, it can lead to a heart attack and stroke, which can be life threatening.
In 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 43, 477 deaths in Australia from heart disease. This is approximately 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia, and most deaths are occurring in those aged 65 years and over.
However, heart disease takes years to develop, so you can take steps to reduce your risk.If you discover you have high cholesterol, have family members with high cholesterol, or are not sure if you’re at risk, it is advisable you seek your doctor’s advice.
Other risk factors for heart disease include increased age, ethnicity, family history, inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.If these risk factors are present in your life, it’s even more important to keep your blood cholesterol levels in check and seek your doctor’s advice.
can help you begin to assess your risk, but we strongly advise you discuss your risk with your GP as this tool does have limitations it doesn’t take your family history into account, for example.
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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.
Same Numbers Different Ratio
Two people with the same total cholesterol number can have different cholesterol ratios. The ratios indicate different levels of heart disease risk. Harvard Medical School cites the following example: If your total cholesterol is 200 and your HDL is 60, your cholesterol ratio would be 3.3. Thats near the AHAs ideal level. However, if your HDL is 35 below the recommended level of 40 for men and 50 for women your cholesterol ratio would be 5.7. This ratio places you in a higher risk category.
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What Are Cholesterol Levels
- LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because too much of it can build up in your arteries and form plaques, which increases the risk of heart disease .
- HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and excreted.
Since your total cholesterol is a combination of your LDL cholesterol and your HDL cholesterol, ideally you want to keep your LDL levels low and your HDL levels high. There are many factors that can influence your cholesterol, including, diet, exercise, weight, genetics, and other health conditions.
How To Lower Cholesterol: Know Your Fats
The American Heart Association recommends that just 25% to 35% of your daily calories come from fats such as those found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. For healthy people, saturated fat should comprise no more than 7% of your total calories. On a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, that’s about 140 calories worth of saturated fat. If you need to lower your LDL cholesterol, limit saturated fat to 5% to 6% of calories, or about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000-calorie diet. Reduce trans fats to less than 1% of your total daily calories. This means avoiding fried foods and many junk foods.
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What Do The Results Mean
Cholesterol is usually measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The information below shows how the different types of cholesterol measurements are categorized.
|Total Cholesterol Level|
|Less than 40 mg/dL||A major risk factor for heart disease|
A healthy cholesterol range for you may depend on your age, family history, lifestyle, and other risk factors. In general, low LDL levels and high HDL cholesterol levels are good for heart health. High levels of triglycerides may also put you at risk for heart disease.
The LDL on your results may say “calculated” which means it includes a calculation of total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides. Your LDL level may also be measured “directly,” without using other measurements. Regardless, you want your LDL number to be low.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.