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.
What Does It Mean If It Is Too High
A 2017 study involving 4,832 males looked at the link between non-HDL cholesterol levels and the risk of death from CVD.
At a 22-year follow-up, the researchers found that non-HDL levels of 190 milligrams per deciliter or more had a significant link to CVD mortality.
If people have high non-HDL cholesterol levels, lifestyle changes and medications may help lower them.
suggests that dietary cholesterol meaning that from foods containing cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol levels or the risk of CVD.
As a result of this research, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer recommend limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.
According to the , a high intake of saturated fats increases LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Researchers are still debating the effects of saturated fats on heart health. A suggests that trans fats, but not saturated fats, increase the risk of CVD.
The recommends that people limit or avoid trans fats. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol levels and reduce HDL cholesterol levels. As a result, they increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Regular physical activity can also help lower unhealthy cholesterol levels.
What To Know About Triglycerides
In addition to cholesterol, you might hear about your triglycerides, another kind of fat found in the bloodstream. Women should pay particular attention to this. A high level of triglycerides seems to predict an even greater risk for heart disease in women compared with men, says Michos.
When you take in more calories than you need, your body converts the extra calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy, but people with excess triglycerides have higher risk of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. Drinking a lot of alcohol and eating foods containing simple carbohydrates , saturated fats and trans fats contributes to high triglycerides. High levels may also be caused by health conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome or kidney disease.
Triglycerides also circulate in the bloodstream on particles that may contribute to plaque formation. Many people with high triglycerides have other risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high LDL levels or low HDL levels, or abnormal blood sugar levels. Genetic studies have also shown some association between triglycerides and cardiovascular disease.
High Cholesterol: Prevention, Treatment and Research
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Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results
Talking with your doctor can provide the most detailed information about your HDL cholesterol test results. Some of the following questions may be useful in obtaining detailed explanations from your physician:
- What was my HDL cholesterol level? Is that level healthy for me?
- Were any other types of cholesterol measured? If so, what were the results of those measurements?
- Do I have risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
- Should I have another cholesterol test? If so, when?
- Are there any other tests that you recommend to evaluate my cardiovascular health?
- Do you recommend any lifestyle changes or treatments to reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease?
Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Deficiency
Cholesteryl ester transfer protein deficiency is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by a mutation of the CETP gene. Because CETP helps in the transfer of cholesterol from HDL to other lipoproteins, CETP deficiency affects low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and slows removal of HDL cholesterol from the blood. Affected people have no symptoms but have high HDL cholesterol in their blood. No treatment is necessary.
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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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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.
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What Does High Hdl Cholesterol Mean
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is often referred to as good cholesterol because it helps remove other, more harmful, forms of cholesterol from your blood. For this reason, high HDL cholesterol is considered good by many people, and this is usually true. However, some scientific studies also draw attention to the possibility that high HDL cholesterol may be harmful in some people.
How To Increase Hdl Cholesterol
Although HDL levels are driven by family genetics, you can improve HDL levels in three key ways:
- If you are a smoker, research clearly shows that quitting smoking can increase HDL.
- Adopting a heart-healthy diet low in fat and high in fiber can also modestly raise your HDL.
- Aerobic exercise can also have positive effects on HDL. Have trouble exercising? Find a buddy research shows it helps motivate you. That exercise can be as simple as increasing the amount of walking you do each week.
Lastly, although primarily used to decrease high LDL, some statin medications may potentially increase HDL levels moderately. Any medical treatment option should be discussed with your doctor. Importantly, high HDL does not protect you from the untoward effects of high LDL.
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High Total Cholesterol Normal Ldl Cholesterol Normal Hdl Cholesterol Very High Triglycerides
Even though triglycerides only contribute a small fraction to the total cholesterol value, very high levels can drastically skew this value and are very dangerous. High levels of triglycerides, especially without high levels of HDL or LDL, may indicate issues in the liver, where triglycerides are made. Testing your liver enzymes can help you identify whether there is in fact a problem levels of these enzymes would be high if this were the case. Elevated triglycerides can be damaging to your cardiovascular system, but can also lead to acute pancreatitis , which requires immediate medical attention.3
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What Causes High Cholesterol
Your liver produces cholesterol, but you also get cholesterol from food. Eating too many foods that are high in fat can increase your cholesterol level.
Being overweight and inactive also causes high cholesterol. If you are overweight, you most likely have a higher level of triglycerides. If you never exercise and arent active in general, it can lower your HDL .
You family history also affects your cholesterol level. Research has shown that high cholesterol tends to run in families. If you have an immediate family member who has it, you could have it, too.
Smoking also causes high cholesterol. It lowers your HDL .
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How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Low
An HDL cholesterol test and LDL cholesterol test measure different types of cholesterol. The two types of cholesterol are transported in the blood in distinct kinds of particles.
In common descriptions, HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol while LDL cholesterol is bad cholesterol. The amount of HDL cholesterol compared to LDL cholesterol can be an important consideration in cardiovascular health.
Measuring HDL cholesterol is more straightforward than measuring LDL cholesterol. For this reason, levels of LDL cholesterol are most often calculated using a formula based on levels of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In some situations, though, a doctor may prescribe a direct LDL test.
What Does The Test Measure
An HDL cholesterol test analyzes a sample of blood to see how much cholesterol is present within high-density lipoprotein particles. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is important for basic cell function. Cholesterol is transported through the body in the blood within lipoproteins, which are made up of fat and protein.
There are multiple kinds of lipoproteins that can carry cholesterol including high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins , and very low-density lipoproteins .
Cholesterol in LDL and VLDL particles can build up in the arteries and cause cardiovascular problems. In contrast, HDL particles transport cholesterol to the liver so that it can be eliminated from the body. Through this and other functions, HDL cholesterol helps protect against hardening and blockages of the arteries.
In practice, virtually all HDL cholesterol tests also measure total cholesterol, which is the sum of cholesterol found in all the different kinds of lipoproteins. By subtracting HDL cholesterol from total cholesterol, the doctor can determine the amount of non-HDL cholesterol that is present. In addition, tests like a lipid panel use a mathematical formula to calculate the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood sample.
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Normal: < 120 And< 80 Mmhg
When your heart beats, it pumps blood through blood vessels called arteries and creates pressure in them. The higher number represents the pressure while your heart is beating. The lower number represents the pressure when your heart is resting between beats. Your blood pressure can change from minute to minute when you change your position or during physical activities, or when you are stressed or sleeping. High blood pressure can damage the walls of your arteries. If your first reading is high, your doctor may take several more readings before deciding whether your blood pressure may be a health concern.
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Goals For Your Cholesterol Levels
Its best to keep your total cholesterol level below 200. Women of any age should have an HDL level of 40 or higher.
If you already have heart disease or diabetes, or your doctor estimates that your 10-year risk of heart disease is 20 percent or higher, try to keep your LDL level below 100.
If you do not have heart disease or diabetes, but you have two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL cholesterol level below 130. Major risk factors are age over 55 cigarette smoking high blood pressure low HDL a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65.
If you have fewer than two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL level below 160.
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What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol moves throughout the body carried by lipoproteins in the blood. These lipoproteins include:
- Low-density lipoprotein is one of the two main lipoproteins. LDL is often called the bad cholesterol.
- High-density lipoprotein is the other main lipoprotein. HDL is often called the good cholesterol.
- Very-low-density lipoproteins are particles in the blood that carry triglycerides.
How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Total Cholesterol Test
A total cholesterol test measures the sum of all cholesterol found in different kinds of lipoproteins. The total cholesterol number includes HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and VLDL cholesterol.
Because these kinds of cholesterol have distinct implications for cardiovascular health, tests of total cholesterol often measure HDL cholesterol as well so that more information is provided about the ratio of HDL to non-HDL cholesterol in the blood.
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How Is High Cholesterol Treated
There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol , including lifestyle changes or medication, or both. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine which therapy is best for you.
Healthcare providers like to start with the least invasive treatments when possible, such as lifestyle changes. Youll be advised to:
- Avoid tobacco. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways, and reducing your level of good cholesterol is one of them.
- Change the way you eat. Limit the number of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
- Get more exercise. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, or about 30 minutes per day for most days of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to do this. Youll see results even before you reach your ideal weight. Losing even 10% of your body weight makes a difference in your cholesterol levels.
- Reduce the effect of negative emotions. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress or other negative emotions.
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure. Make sure you follow your healthcare providers instructions for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, and for keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.
- Atorvastatin .
- Simvastatin .
- Pitavastatin .
Ldl Is The Bad Cholesterol
LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol, and it’s negative reputation is well-earned. A high LDL means you are at higher risk for serious diseases. That’s because LDL contributes to plaque buildups in your arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Clogged arteries increase your risk for heart attacks and strokes, as well as peripheral artery disease in your legs.
A normal LDL cholesterol level is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, so if your LDL is above 100, it is high. The higher your LDL cholesterol, the higher your risk for heart disease.
LDL can be further broken down into larger particles and smaller particles. Experts believe the smaller LDL particles may be of greater concern than the larger ones.
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Is There A Drug That Increases Hdl
Most drug therapy for cholesterol is aimed at lowering LDL levels, and some cholesterol-lowering drugs will decrease HDL as well as LDL. Diet and exercise are the best choice for now.
- Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests Kathleen D. Pagana, Ph.D., R.,N., and Timothy Pagana, M.D., F.A.C.S. 1998
Stephanie Draus is a naturopathic doctor and assistant professor of clinical sciences at National University of Health Sciences. She has practiced in Chicago as a health consultant since 2005. She is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
How Do You Prepare For A Cholesterol Test
In most cases, youll need to fast for nine to 12 hours before the test. Make sure you tell the person drawing your blood how long it has been since you ate or drank anything that wasnt water.
There are some cases when a cholesterol test is done without fasting. This is true for tests done at health screenings and may be true for people younger than 20 or for people who are unable to fast.
Some medical societies believe that fasting is not necessary to get a true picture of lipid levels in the blood, while other associations stand by the belief that fasting gives a better idea of a persons heart disease risk. You should be clear on whether or not you need to fast, and for how long, before you go for the blood test.
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What Are The Conditions And Medications Related To High Hdl Cholesterol
High HDL cholesterol is linked to other conditions, including:
- Thyroid disorders
- Inflammatory diseases
- Alcohol consumption
Sometimes drugs that control cholesterol can also raise HDL levels. These are medications usually taken to lower LDL, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels.
Types of drugs that have been linked to increased HDL levels include:
- Bile acid sequestrants, which reduce the absorption of fat from the foods you eat
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements that lower blood triglycerides while also increasing HDL cholesterol
- Statins, which prevent the liver from making more cholesterol
Increasing HDL levels is often a positive side effect in people with low HDL levels, as in most cases, because it reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.