When To See A Healthcare Provider
You most likely wont experience any symptoms of a low HDL level early on. Its important to meet with a healthcare provider consistently for routine bloodwork to monitor for silent risk factors for disease.
If your healthcare provider finds that you have abnormal cholesterol levels, they can help you get them into a healthy range. They may recommend medications, called statins, to help lower LDL levels.
Lifestyle changes to help to increase HDL levels include:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Sweating or a clammy feeling
- Loss of consciousness
Can You Get Rid Of Cholesterol Deposits
Researchers are working on ways to eliminate plaque from coronary arteries. One method that has been proposed involves using combinations of medicines in healthy people aged 25 to 55 years. It is suggested that getting the levels of cholesterol down very low will allow arteries to clear up and heal up.
Several researchers believe that the way to reverse heart disease and prevent it in the first place is found in a whole-food, plant-based diet. Studies have been done that have shown that limiting nutrition to whole foods that are plant-based have been successful in reducing blood cholesterol and even, in some cases, lessening plaque buildup.
Documented Benefits Of Healthy Lifestyle Change
It is a low-fat, fiber-rich, Pritikin-style eating plan plus daily exercise that has been scientifically documented to relieve angina, regress atherosclerosis, and reduce cardiovascular events and total mortality. We do not have comparable data for any drug or drug combination, or for higher good fat diets like those recommended by the American Heart Association and National Cholesterol Education Program, asserts Dr. Kenney
And it is a low-fat, fiber-rich, Pritikin-style eating plan that is followed by populations who enjoy the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world, such as the people of Okinawa and other rural regions of Japan. They also, by the way, tend to have very low levels of HDL, often in the 20s and even lower.
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Low Levels Of Hdl Appear Connected To Many Health Risks Not Just Heart Disease
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Most everyone these days is aware that a high level of cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. For years, the thinking has been that there is bad cholesterol and good cholesterol . Studies of populations have clearly demonstrated a strong association between low levels of LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of developing heart disease. LDL cholesterol reduction with drugs such as statins has been demonstrated to reduce cardiovascular risk. Thus, both the epidemiology and the randomized clinical trials support LDL cholesterols role as a risk factor for heart disease and that by lowering LDL we can lower the chances of heart attack and stroke.
With respect to HDL cholesterol, the epidemiology supports an association between high levels of HDL cholesterol and lower cardiovascular risk. However, unlike the LDL cholesterol story, recent clinical trials of drugs that specifically raise HDL cholesterol have not been shown to improve cardiovascular outcomes. Why is there this disconnect? That has been a pressing question among cardiovascular researchers.
Another Type Of Fat Found In The Blood Mainly From The Food We Eat
Whats healthy? Less than 1.7 mmol/L ideally on a fasting sample, or less than 2.3 mmol/L on a non-fasting sample.
What should I do? Very high triglyceride levels can cause a painful condition called pancreatitis. People can have raised levels for many reasons, but the most common reasons are lifestyle-related:
- Being apple-shaped .
- Developing or having type 2 diabetes.
Excessive alcohol consumption.
You can keep your triglyceride levels low by losing weight, being more active and eating sensibly, especially by cutting back on alcohol, sugary foods and saturated fats, and eating more fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains.
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Unwind With A Glass Of Wine To Increase Hdl Cholesterol
Research shows that moderate drinking can increase good cholesterol levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, this means having up to one alcoholic drink per day for women, as well as for men over age 65 men under 65 can have up to two drinks per day.
A study published in February 2016 in the journal PLoS One concluded as much. For nearly 11,000 adults, researchers found that low to moderate alcohol consumption led to higher levels of HDL cholesterol. It also helped get them to healthier overall cholesterol levels, decreasing triglycerides and lowering LDL cholesterol.
Drinking too much alcohol, on the other hand, can reverse these health benefits and lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and high triglyceride levels as well as addiction for some.
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 .
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Lifestyle Tips To Cut Cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Suggestions include:
- Cease alcohol consumption or reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day. Avoid binge drinking. This may help lower your triglyceride levels.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into artery cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly . Exercise increases HDL levels while reducing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to raised blood triglyceride and LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis , heart attacks and strokes.
My Hdl Is Low What Does That Mean
For years, people attending the Pritikin Longevity Center have said to our doctors and dietitians: I love how the Pritikin Program has improved my health, especially my LDL bad cholesterol, but my HDL is low. Shouldnt my HDL good cholesterol be higher?
And for years, our doctors and dietitians have replied, Dont focus on your HDL. Whats far more important is the healthy lifestyle youve learned at Pritikin because this lifestyle, more than anything else, will give you optimal protection against heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension, and strokes.
Raising HDL via drugs does not seem to translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes.
The findings of an important recent 3,414-person trial* from the National Institutes of Health affirm that raising HDL should not be our focus.
In the trial, the participants, all of whom had heart disease, were given either Zocor plus a placebo, or Zocor plus a high-dose niacin drug called Niaspan, which raises HDL.
The participants were intended to be followed for 32 months. But the trial was halted after 18 months. While both drugs had done their lipid-improving jobs , the patients taking Niaspan saw no benefit in protection against heart attacks over statin therapy alone. They also had a slightly increased risk of stroke.
Bottom Line: Raising HDL via drugs does not seem to translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes.
No lower risk of heart attacks and strokes
And scientifically uninformed.
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High Triglycerides With Low Hdl There Is Medical Treatment Available
While making positive and important lifestyle changes are definitely the best way to improve your HDL level, there are medications available that could help. Most of the prescribed medications for high cholesterol also work to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. However, some of these medications can also improve your HDL level. The 2 most used to treat low levels of HDL cholesterol include niacin and fibrates
- Niacin this is a member of the B vitamin family. It is known to boost low levels of HDL cholesterol if it is taken in prescription strength. The typically used niacin name includes Niaspin.
- Fibrates or fibrate acid derivatives these medications are effective in lowering triglyceride levels and lower LDL cholesterol. However, they are also used to treat people who have high triglycerides, as well as low HDL cholesterol levels in people who cannot take niacin. These are medications such as gemfibrozil and fenofibrate .
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.
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Diagnosing And Treating Hypocholesterolemia
Blood tests are the standard way to diagnose cholesterol levels. Most doctors will consider an LDL cholesterol level less than 50 milligrams per deciliter or a total cholesterol level less than 120 mg/dL as low cholesterol. Total cholesterol is LDL and HDL added together and 20 percent of a persons triglycerides, which are another type of fat found in the bloodstream. You might be interested in knowing that an ideal LDL level is between 70 and 100 mg/dL.
If you havent had your cholesterol checked within the last two years, you should do so.
Lets say that you are diagnosed with low cholesterol what do you do? Low cholesterol treatment is only prescribed after a doctor has taken a close look at your diet, lifestyle, other potential health conditions, as well as yourmental health.
Often times, low cholesterol is caused by something in the diet or a physical condition, so hypocholesterolemia treatment will focus on either foods or the physical ailment. In many cases, just eating cholesterol-rich foods wont solve the problem. Adjustments to diet often need to be coupled with other treatments. When cholesterol level is having an impact on a persons mental health or vice versa, an antidepressant may be prescribed.
During an evaluation, the doctor will also go over any medications that you might be taking. Some statin medications can cause cholesterol levels to decrease. In these situations, it is usually a matter of changing the dose or the medication.
Cholesterol Levels For Adults
- Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
- LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be of more concern for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors. A reading of 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high and 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. A reading of 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- HDL levels should be kept higher. A reading of less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. A reading from 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL is considered borderline low. The optimal reading for HDL levels is of 60 mg/dL or higher.
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Good Bad And Total Cholesterol: What Does It All Mean
If youve discussed cholesterol with your primary care physician, you know there are different types of cholesterol that affect your body in different ways. However, many people havent been educated about cholesterol. Is there really good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? What is a healthy cholesterol level, and how do you manage cholesterol? Heres some information to help you understand what cholesterol is all about.
Eat More Fish To Boost Hdl Cholesterol
Including fish in your diet can increase HDL cholesterol in a short period of time. In a study published in February 2014 in the journal PLoS One, researchers concluded that a diet rich in foods including fish showed an increase in the size of HDL particles in the body, which could help improve cholesterol transport through the body. The researchers saw the positive effects of a diet that included fish in as little as 12 weeks.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the type of fatty acids found in fish, can help increase your HDL cholesterol, Ahmed says. Two servings of fatty fish per week, including salmon, mackerel, or albacore tuna, can help you hit your omega-3 goals. Youll also get omega-3s from flaxseeds, mixed greens, and walnuts in your diet.
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What Does A Low Ldl Mean
After the age of 20, getting your blood cholesterol levels checked at least every five years is a good idea. Its one of the key indicators for assessing your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease. But getting the simple blood test is just the first step. Once your numbers are back, you need to understand what they mean — so that you can either celebrate or find ways to correct a high LDL level.
Components Of Plasma High
Plasma HDL is a small, dense, spherical lipid-protein complex, with the lipid and protein components each making up half. The major lipids are phospholipid, cholesterol, cholesteryl esters, and TGs. The major proteins include apo A-I and apo A-II . Other minor, albeit important, proteins are apo E and apo C, including apo C-I, apo C-II, and apo C-III. HDL particles are heterogeneous. They can be classified into larger, less dense HDL2 and smaller, denser HDL3. Normally, most HDL is present as HDL3. However, individual variability in HDL levels in humans is usually due to different amounts of HDL2.
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Drop Excess Pounds To Increase Hdl Cholesterol
If youre overweight or obese, shedding those excess pounds can help to raise HDL cholesterol. Leah Groppo, RD, CDE, clinical dietitian at Stanford Health Care in Stanford, California, says that losing around 7 percent of your total body weight is enough to cause a metabolic shift.But as Groppo notes, Maintaining weight loss is key.
Abdominal obesity fat that accumulates around your waist rather than in the hips and thighs seems to be associated with heart disease risk and lower levels of the good cholesterol. Weight loss is especially helpful for people who have an apple-shaped body.
Effective weight-loss methods include diet, exercise, and surgery. A study published in January 2014 in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases found that 318 participants who received laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding showed a significant increase in their HDL cholesterol long-term, 12 years later.
What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles per litre in the UK. The government recommends the general population aims for under 5 mmol/L of total cholesterol levels, but three out of five adults in the UK have levels of 5 mmol/L or above.
Your GP will explain your cholesterol readings and what they mean in terms of your future health – mainly whether you have a high, moderate or low risk of developing cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years.
After the test, you may just be given the TC figure, but ask your surgery for your full results and keep a note of them to compare against future checks.
Heres a quick guide to understanding your cholesterol levels.
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You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
Deterrence And Patient Education
As discussed previously, a healthy diet is recommended in the treatment of low HDL. The Mediterranean diet in observational studies has shown a decrease in cardiovascular and overall mortality. In a meta-analysis of the PREDIMED trial, no reduction in cardiovascular or overall mortality was observed. It is important to counsel patients on the types of fat they consume as these affect their HDL levels. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled feeding studies compared fat sources by replacing just 1% of energy consumption, trans fatty acids in place of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, or polyunsaturated fats, respectively, increased the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL by 0.31, 0.54 and 0.67 apolipoprotein -B/ApoAI ratio was increased by 0.007, 0.010 and 0.011 and increased lipoprotein by 3.76, 1.39 and 1.11 mg/L.
Further counseling on weight loss and exercise is warranted as well. Amongst the saturated fatty acids, the carbon chain length affects the change in serum cholesterol. For instance, those with carbon chain lengths of 14 and 16 increase LDL and HDL cholesterol while decreasing triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. These smaller saturated fats can be found mostly in dairy products and red meats. On the other hand, stearic acid has less of an effect on LDL and HDL cholesterol and can be found in beef and cocoa butter.
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