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.
Why Do I Need This Test
You may have this test as part of your regular medical checkup. You may have this test done more often than every 5 years if:
Your total cholesterol is above 200 mg/dL
You are a woman older than 50
You are a man older than 45
You have other risk factors for coronary heart disease
Your HDL cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL
What Affects My Cholesterol Levels
A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are some things you can do to lower your cholesterol levels:
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise. Saturated fat is the main problem, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level. Foods that have high levels of saturated fats include some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
- Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It also raises your HDL cholesterol level.
- Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.
- Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. HDL helps to remove bad cholesterol from your arteries. So a lower HDL can contribute to a higher level of bad cholesterol.
Things outside of your control that can also affect cholesterol levels include:
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Find Out Your Heart Age With The Heart Age Tool
Once you have your cholesterol results you can work out your risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years using the NHS Heart Age Tool. You will get a more accurate result if you know your blood pressure numbers too. The heart age tool is designed for people aged 25 to 84.
Adults age 40-74 are also invited for NHS Health Checks which includes other simple tests to look at your heart health.
How Is The Total Cholesterol Or Blood Cholesterol Test Done
A blood test is a routine test. A phlebotomist is the person whose job it is to draw blood. Blood is usually drawn from the vein in your arm. You will sit down and the phlebotomist will wrap a rubber band around your upper arm so that the vein in your elbow sticks out. Then they will use a needle to puncture the vein and remove blood. The blood is sent to the lab to be examined.
Youve probably been at health fairs where testing is offered. In that case, the person performing the test takes a drop of blood from your finger. The finger stick test uses a small blade to poke a hole in the tip of your finger to get 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 amount 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 .
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.
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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.
Your Total Cholesterol Figure Divided By The Hdl
Whats healthy? The lower this figure, the better. Ideally 4.5, while above 6 is considered high risk.
What should I do? This reading will help your GP work out whether your overall cholesterol levels are healthy, which in turn helps them calculate your risk of CVD – another reason why its important to have full cholesterol results, not just TC. It could be high if your TC, LDL-C and non-HDL cholesterol levels are too high, or if your HDL-C is too low, or a combination of both. Maintaining a healthy TC:HDL ratio long-term can help reduce your risk of CVD in future. You can do this by following the advice above.
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How Can You Lower Your Non
You get all the cholesterol you need from your liver. You also get some from foods like meat, poultry, dairy products, and saturated oils used in baked goods. These foods also prompt your liver to make more cholesterol.
To reduce your overall cholesterol levels, limit your intake of saturated fats. That means going light on fatty meat and full-fat dairy products.
Its also important to avoid trans fats, which you may find listed as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in:
- baked goods like store-bought cookies, cakes, pastries, and frozen pies
- snack foods like crackers, microwaveable popcorn, frozen pizza crusts, and meat pies
- fried fast foods like fried chicken, french fries, fried noodles, and battered fish
- vegetable shortening which is often used in baked goods as a cheap alternative to butter
- stick margarine which is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils
- non-dairy coffee creamers used as a substitute for milk and cream in coffee, tea, and other hot beverages
Instead of eating processed foods, try to focus on eating more whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy sources of protein, like fish, skinless chicken, and lean red meat.
Some foods that may help improve LDL cholesterol include:
- oatmeal and oat bran
The American Heart Association Recommends
All adults age 20 or older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. If certain factors put you at high risk, or if you already have heart disease, your doctor may ask you to check it more often. Work with your doctor to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke and create a plan to reduce your risk.
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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.
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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Who Needs To Get Checked
Everyone should get their cholesterol checked, starting at age 20 and then every 4 to 6 years after that if their risk remains low.
After age 40, your doctor may want to check your levels more often. Typically, people assigned male at birth who are ages 45 to 65, along with people assigned female at birth who are ages 55 to 65, should have their cholesterol checked every 1 to 2 years.
Everyones risk for high cholesterol goes up with age. This is because the older we get, the harder it becomes for our bodies to filter out cholesterol.
A family history of high cholesterol can also increase risk.
While its impossible to control aging and family history, there are some behaviors that increase the risk of developing high cholesterol that can be changed
Individuals living with obesity and type 2 diabetes are more at risk for an increase in bad cholesterol and a dip in good cholesterol.
Its important to work with your doctor, who can provide support and resources, to help you adhere to their recommendations on how to lower your risk. Recommendations may include losing excess weight and focusing on finding what works best for you in managing your diabetes.
Other behaviors that may put you at a higher risk include:
- smoking, which can damage blood vessels and may lower good cholesterol
- eating a diet high in saturated and trans fat, which includes foods like fatty meats and dairy-based desserts
- not getting enough physical movement throughout the week
- drinking an excess of alcohol
What Is A Normal Range For Non
The higher your non-HDL cholesterol, the higher your risk of heart disease.
A study published in 2018 involved more than 36,000 people with a low 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease. A long-term follow-up found LDL and non-HDL readings of more than 160 mg/dL were each linked with a 50 to 80 percent increased relative risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
For other cholesterol readings, the following guidelines apply if you dont have heart or blood vessel disease.
Your LDL cholesterol reading is:
- optimal if less than 100 mg/dL
- above optimal/borderline high if between 100 and 129 mg/dL
- mildly high if 130 to 159 mg/dL
- high at 160 to 189 mg/dL
- very high at 190 mg/dL or above
Your HDL cholesterol reading is:
- optimal if its 60 mg/dL or above
- low if its 40 mg/dL or lower
Your triglyceride reading is:
- optimal if less than 100 mg/dL
- borderline high at 100 to 149 mg/dL
- high if 150 to 499 mg/dL
- very high if higher than 500 mg/dL
Your doctor may have different goals for you if youre at high risk of heart disease or have already had heart disease.
- have kidney disease
Studies are beginning to highlight the importance of non-HDL in assessing cardiovascular risk.
For example, in a 2016 study, researchers looked at data from nine clinical trials involving people with coronary disease. They found that achieved non-HDL cholesterol was more strongly associated with disease progression than LDL.
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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.
How Do Good And Bad Cholesterol Affect The Body
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the good cholesterol. The benefit of HDL lies in the fact that it carries bad cholesterol back to the liver. In doing so, it cleanses cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is the bad cholesterol. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol, the greater your risk of a heart attack. When the level of LDL cholesterol goes up, excess cholesterol can build up and stick to the walls of your arteries. This causes damage. The buildup is called plaque, and the formation of plaque can cause arteries to harden and narrow. This hardening is called atherosclerosis. It’s also known as hardening of the arteries. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot can form, suddenly blocking an artery. This causes a heart attack or stroke.
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What To Expect During The Test
The HDL test is quick and relatively painless. A healthcare provider will draw a blood sample using a needle. Youll feel the sting of the needle where the blood sample is taken. Some tests, such as home tests, only need a drop of blood taken using a small needle called a lancet.
When they draw enough blood into the airtight bottle attached to the needle, theyll package the sample and send it to a laboratory for testing. If you feel woozy or lightheaded after the blood draw, you may rest and possibly have a snack or a sugary drink to help you feel better.
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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Are Test Results Accurate
HDL cholesterol testing is extremely common and frequently used to evaluate cardiovascular risk. Like any test, though, HDL cholesterol tests are not perfectly accurate. Certain factors that can influence accuracy of any single test include:
- Individual variability: There can be some differences in HDL cholesterol levels based on individual factors like stress or posture during the test. Minor variation can also occur between laboratories.
- Acute illness: Levels of cholesterol in the blood are affected by inflammation, so infections or other illnesses that produce inflammation may interfere with the accuracy of HDL cholesterol tests.
- Certain blood disorders: Some conditions that affect blood cells cause an increase in a type of protein, known as an M protein, in the blood. In people with these conditions, HDL cholesterol tests may show a lower level of HDL cholesterol than is actually present in their blood.
Point-of-care and at-home tests that use a fingerstick blood sample are nearly as accurate as laboratory testing, but there may be more variability in accuracy based on the brand and the quality of its test.
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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