Can Bad Cholesterol Levels Be Too Low Can Good Cholesterol Levels Be Too High
It isnt often that people have bad cholesterol that is too low or good cholesterol that is too high. There are studies being done that suggest that extremes of any kind are not healthy for everyone.
However, there is data from clinical trials to support that there is no evidence of harm when LDLs remain < 40mg/dl on statin therapy.
In some cases, genetic conditions can cause you to have very low cholesterol levels. In other cases, nutritional problems, some cancers, hypothyroidism and certain infections can also cause low cholesterol levels. In any of these types of situations, the underlying issues need to be addressed.
In terms of having too much of a good thing, researchers are studying the effects of too much HDL, the good cholesterol. No conclusions have been reached, but there have been studies into the possible relationship between high HDL and cancer, and a greater risk of heart attack among the high risk. Excessively high HDL may be dysfunctional HDL and not protective.
Can Ldl Cholesterol Levels Be Too Low
There is no medically-established LDL level that’s too low however, scores of 40 mg/dL or below have been associated with depression, anxiety, and stroke. Very low levels are also a hallmark of familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, a genetic disorder that causes problems with fat absorption and liver health, while leading to vitamin deficiencies.
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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How Ldl Impacts Total Cholesterol
Physiologically speaking, LDL represents a majority of your cholesterol however, as noted, HDL and triglycerides are also present in significant amounts. Total cholesterol levelswhile not as clinically significant for isolated heart and circulation issuesgive a decent glimpse of cardiovascular health.
So how does LDL impact total cholesterol levels? Total cholesterol is a composite score calculated by adding up LDL and HDL levels with 20% of the triglyceride score. Normal levels of this type are less than 170 mg/dL for those under 20, and between 125 and 200 mg/dL for adults. Forty percent of that score is determined by LDL, which is also a significant measure in its own right.
How Can I Lower My Ldl Level
There are two main ways to lower your LDL cholesterol:
- Therapeutic lifestyle changes . TLC includes three parts:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
- Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
- Drug Treatment. If lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. The medicines work in different ways and can have different side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which one is right for you. While you are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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What Is A Lipoprotein Blood Test
A lipoprotein test measures the level of lipoprotein in your blood. Lipoproteins are substances made of protein and fat that carry cholesterol through your bloodstream. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein , or good cholesterol
- Low-density lipoprotein , or bad cholesterol.
Lipoprotein is a type of LDL cholesterol. A high level of lipoprotein may mean you are at risk for heart disease.
Other names: cholesterol Lp, Lp
How Much Do Cholesterol Home Tests Cost
Costs are variable and reliable tests can run from $50 to over $150 per kit. If you have insurance, it may be better to have your cholesterol test done at a lab. This will allow your doctor to make recommendations based on a full lipid profile, and in most cases, the costs are covered by your insurance.
You can search on a full list of over-the-counter FDA-approved home cholesterol testing kits here.
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What Complications Are Possible If You Dont Treat High Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood
The main reason to treat high cholesterol is to prevent or treat coronary heart disease , also called coronary artery disease or CAD. CHD happens when heart is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to function well and kills more people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. CHD usually refers to the large arteries, but there is also a condition called coronary microvascular disease that affects the small vessels and causes damage.
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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Learn About Other Precautions To Help You Stay Safe While Taking Statins
Statins are the most common medicine used to treat high blood cholesterol. Learn some tips to stay safe if your doctor gives you statins.
- Keep taking your statin medicine as prescribed. If you started taking a statin after you recently had a heart attack, a stroke, or another complication, you should not stop taking this medicine on your own, because that can increase your risk for a repeat event or even death. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns about your medication or if you would like to stop or change to a different treatment.
- Ask your doctor what medicines, nutritional supplements, or foods you should avoid. Some of these can interact with statins to cause serious side effects or make them less effective. For example, grapefruit affects how your liver breaks down some statins.
- Tell your doctor about any symptoms or side effects. Sometimes, people report muscle problems while taking statins. If you start having muscle pain, your doctor may order a blood test to look for muscle damage. The pain may go away if you switch to a different statin. Muscle damage with statins is rare, and your muscles may heal when you switch to a different medicine.
- If you are a woman who is planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your options. You should stop taking statins about three months before getting pregnant. Also, you should not take statins if you are breastfeeding.
What Does The Test Measure
An LDL cholesterol test checks the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Results are typically measured in milligrams per deciliter .
Cholesterol is a fatty substance your body naturally creates to help in digesting food, creating hormones, and making vitamin D. Cholesterol is made up of different types of lipoproteins, which are a combination of fats, also known as lipids, and proteins. Lipids connect to proteins to be able to move through your blood. Cholesterol testing often measures different substances in the blood:
- High-density cholesterol: HDL carries cholesterol from other parts of your body to your liver for processing and removal and is considered the good cholesterol.
- Low-density cholesterol: LDL is known as the bad cholesterol because too much of it in your blood can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, putting you at risk of heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.
- Triglycerides: Triglycerides are fats created by the foods we eat. These fats are stored until your body needs energy. Triglycerides are processed by your body when it needs energy. Having high levels of triglycerides can lead to coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
- Very low-density cholesterol: VLDL is similar to LDL cholesterol but carries triglycerides through the blood. VLDL can contribute to plaque buildup and is considered a bad cholesterol.
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How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally
In some cases, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels without taking medications. For example, it may be enough to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking tobacco products.
Some people also claim that certain herbal and nutritional supplements may help lower cholesterol levels. For instance, such claims have been made about:
- ground flax seed
However, the level of evidence supporting these claims varies. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasnt approved any of these products for treating high cholesterol. More research is needed to learn if they can help treat this condition.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal or nutritional supplements. In some cases, they might interact with other medications youre taking. Learn more about natural remedies for high cholesterol.
Genetic risk factors for high cholesterol cant be controlled. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.
To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:
- Eat a nutritious diet thats low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fiber.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Exercise regularly.
- Dont smoke.
You should also follow your doctors recommendations for routine cholesterol screening. If youre at risk of high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, they will likely encourage you to get your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis. Find out how to get your cholesterol levels checked.
Why Do I Need A Cholesterol Test
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But you take in more cholesterol from certain foods, such as those from animals. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, it can build up in the walls of your arteries and eventually harden. This process, called atherosclerosis, actually narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to travel through the vessels.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol doesnt cause symptoms. In later stages of atherosclerosis, though, you may suffer angina severe chest pain from lack of blood flow to the heart. If an artery gets totally blocked, a heart attack results. A routine blood cholesterol test is a far better way of finding out what your cholesterol level is.
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Why Cholesterol Matters For Women
Ah, cholesterol and triglycerides. We hear about them all the time. Even foods that might seem good for you on the surface, like fruit-filled yogurt or bran muffins, can contribute to abnormal levels if they contain too much saturated fat or refined sugar, says Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
Whats more, many women are at risk for high cholesterol and dont realize it. Approximately 45 percent of women over the age of 20 have a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and above, which is considered elevated but a survey by the American Heart Association found that 76 percent of women say they dont even know what their cholesterol values are, Michos says.
Scarier still: Triglycerides, a type of blood fat typically measured alongside cholesterol, are even more risky in women compared with men. This is a problem because womens cholesterol levels can fluctuate quite a bit after menopause and tend to increase with age, putting us at greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your cholesterol numbers and how to control them is a big step toward staying healthy.
Maintain A Normal Weight
Having a BMI in the overweight or obese range highly correlates with having excess body fat, which in turn can affect how your body processes cholesterol. Excess body fat also slows down the ability to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood, raising your levels and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
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.
Does Age Make A Difference To Recommended Cholesterol Levels
No, recommended cholesterol levels do not change based on age. It was once thought that high cholesterol becomes less of a problem as one ages. However, there is now good evidence that lowering high cholesterol is of benefit even in the elderly.
Previously, there was also concern that some cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins may interfere with ones cognitive function and that this might be more of an issue in the elderly. This has now been debunked. Nevertheless, it is worth starting with a low dose and gradually increasing to avoid any potential side effects.
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How Do I Prepare For The Test
You may need to not eat or drink anything but water for 12 to 14 hours before this test. In addition, be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that dont need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
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 Is High Ldl
Cholesterol itself is a necessary substance in the body. Its manufactured in your liver and it can be present in certain foods, especially meats, eggs, and dairy. LDL is a lipoproteina substance that conveys cholesterol to cells, aiding in maintaining cell structure, and serving as a precursor for substances vital to human function. Everyone has some amount of this lipoprotein, but problems arise when these are elevated.
When there is an excess of LDL, plaques build up in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis and reducing blood flow. When your hearts arteries are affected, insufficient oxygen levels damage cardiac muscles and cause CAD, angina , and even heart attack. Further, arteries in other parts of the body can also be affected, leading to peripheral artery disease and stroke.
Lipid Panel Tests To Screen For High Blood Cholesterol
A lipid panel usually measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Your test results may also show the level of non-HDL cholesterol, which includes all fats that raise your risk of heart and blood vessels diseases. It may also include a test for triglycerides.
Ask your doctor if you need to fast before a lipid panel. This means you do not eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before your visit. Ask your doctor about taking your medicines before the test.
How often you get a lipid panel done depends on your age, risk factors, and family history of high blood cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. Here is a general guide:
- Age 19 or younger. Screening begins at ages 9 to 11 and should be repeated every 5 years. Screening may be performed as early as age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke.
- Age 20 to 65. Younger adults should be screened every 5 years. Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should be screened every 1 to 2 years.
- Older than 65. Older adults should be screened every year.
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