Whats Your Cholesterol Level Anyway
A standard lipid blood test usually measures the concentration of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. The LDL-cholesterol level is typically estimated from these numbers using a well-established formula that has been more recently revised and improved by researchers at Johns Hopkins.
So what are your target numbers? According to Michos, an ideal LDL cholesterol level should be less than 70 mg/dl, and a womans HDL cholesterol level ideally should be close to 50 mg/dl. Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl. As Michos notes, total cholesterol levels well below 200 mg/dl are best.
How To Lower Your Cholesterol
If youve been told that you have high cholesterol or you just want to prevent it what can you do?
There are several ways to manage it, including:
Medication: Depending on your overall cardiovascular disease risk, you might be treated with a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as a statin. The decision to use a statin is based on a womans overall risk for heart attack and stroke including all these factors and the LDL cholesterol value.
If you already have vascular disease or evidence of atherosclerosis, or if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, a statin for prevention is strongly recommended because this treats the plaque in the arteries, and lowers LDL cholesterol, Michos says.
Diet and lifestyle:Diet and lifestyle are very important to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Even for women who are recommended to take cholesterol-lowering medications, a healthy lifestyle helps these drugs work better, says Michos.
Heres how to maintain a lifestyle that promotes healthy cholesterol levels:
Add these to your shopping list:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna
- Nuts, including walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts
- Olive oil to drizzle lightly over your salads and vegetables
While nobody wants to have high cholesterol, there are plenty of ways to keep it in check. With regular checkups and attention to what you eat, its possible to manage your cholesterol and blood fats to keep your heart healthy, says Michos.
High Total Cholesterol High Ldl Cholesterol Low Hdl Cholesterol And High Triglycerides
High alert! This is the most dangerous combination of lipid markers. Roughly 32% of Americans have elevated LDL cholesterol, according to the CDC.1 In this ratio, where high LDL is coupled with low HDL, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease is high. It is very important here to bring down LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol to help combat the bad LDL. The ratio of HDL to LDL is very important.
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What Does A Low Cholesterol Level In The Blood Mean
Hypocholesterolemia is a very rare situation in clinical practice.
Cholesterol is essential for some important functions in the body. For that reason, a low cholesterol level in the blood is also a health risk. People with hypocholesterolemia are twice as likely to have an intracerebral hemorrhage .
The main reason for hypocholesterolemia is an excessive pharmacological treatment for hypercholesterolemia or malnutrition. If the cause is an excessive cholesterol-lowering drugs, it is recommended to decrease the dose.
In some cases, it can be due to hyperthyroidism or liver disorders.
Cholesterol values are usually given in mg/dl but sometimes you can see those values in mmol/l following the International System of Units . In case your values are in mmol/l you can convert them using this tool:
Cholesterol values below 50 mg/dl are extremely rare and it is usually a sign of a genetic disorder that prevents the correct absorption of fats. For example, it may be a consequence of abetalipoproteinemia or familial hypobetalipoproteinemia.
What About Taking A Drug To Reduce My Cholesterol Level
If you stay on a low-fat diet for three to six months but still have not reached your goal, talk to your doctor about taking a medicine to reduce your cholesterol level.
When you take a cholesterol-lowering medicine, try to take it every day at about the same time. The drop in your cholesterol level caused by the drug lasts only one or two days after you stop taking the medicine.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any changes in your body that might be a side effect from the medicine. Also, talk to your doctor if you are worried about taking the medicine.
If the cholesterol medicine does not help reduce your LDL level enough after several months of treatment, your doctor may increase the dose. Changing to a different cholesterol medicine can also help.
Another way to make the cholesterol medicine work would be to add a second medicine to your treatment. Your doctor can try different treatments to find which one works for you. Even if you are taking a medicine to lower your cholesterol, it’s still important to follow a heart-healthy diet.
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Normal Range Of Cholesterol Found Among Men : 0
Ideal values of Cholesterol depending on age :
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Lowering Cholesterol Through Diet
To help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.
For example, they may advise you to:
- limit your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats
- choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes
- eat a wide variety of high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- opt for baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, and roasted foods instead of fried foods
- avoid fast food and sugary, pre-packaged options when possible
Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats include:
- red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high fat dairy products
- processed foods made with cocoa butter or palm oil
- deep-fried foods, such as potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
- certain baked goods, such as some cookies and muffins
Eating fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may also help lower your LDL levels. For example, salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega-3s. Walnuts, almonds, ground flaxseeds, and avocados also contain omega-3s.
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Total Cholesterol Level 200
Total cholesterol level 200-239 mg/dl is classified asborderline high cholesterol level. This means that cholesterol is above normal, but not quitein the high range yet.
Borderline cholesterol may be caused by numerous factors which are divided into factors one can control and factors one cannot control.
To exclude the risk of developing any cardiovasculardisease, one should undergo a number of lifestyle changes that include dietarychanges, physical activity, quitting smoking, and sometimes takingcholesterol-lowering drugs.
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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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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Making Sense Of Your Cholesterol Numbers
It’s important to know your cholesterol levels and what they mean so you can take action to protect your heart health.
Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, high LDL, low HDL: Understanding your cholesterol levels can be confusing. Even though its complicated, learning how to make sense of your cholesterol numbers is important. It’s the key to knowing what steps you need to take to keep your heart healthy.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol has no warning signs. But if your levels of cholesterol a fat-like substance in the body are too high, that can seriously increase your risk of heart disease. Thats why certain blood tests are necessary to measure the amount of cholesterol in your blood. “The earlier we can address cholesterol issues, the more likely we are to prevent the development of heart disease,” says David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Cholesterol Tests and What They Mean
It’s recommended that all adults older than 20 have a fasting lipoprotein profile, a blood test performed after 9 to 12 hours of fasting, once every five years. The test provides the following breakdown of your cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter of blood, or mg/dL:
2 Other Ways to Assess Cholesterol
Frid notes, however, that this test is expensive. In most cases, he believes doing a basic cholesterol test and knowing patients’ risk factors are enough.
Taking Control of Your Cholesterol Numbers
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Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.
So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
There are two main ways to lower your cholesterol:
- Heart-healthy lifestyle changes, which include:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples 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 .
- Managing stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
- Quitting smoking.Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, having more HDL can help to lower your LDL cholesterol.
- 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 medicines 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 should continue with the lifestyle changes.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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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. Its 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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Who Needs Cholesterol Medicines
- You have already had a heart attack or stroke, or you have peripheral arterial disease
- Your LDL cholesterol level is 190 mg/dL or higher
- You are 40-75 years old, you have diabetes, and your LDL cholesterol level is 70 mg/dL or higher
- You are 40-75 years old, you have a high risk of developing heart disease or stroke, and your LDL cholesterol level is 70 mg/dL or higher
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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.
What Does My Total Cholesterol Level Mean
Your doctor is likely to tell you that your cholesterol reading is:
- borderline high
If your total cholesterol is in the desirable range, you are at lower risk for heart disease. Unless you have other risk factors, a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL means your chance of heart attack is relatively low. To keep your risk low, eat a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and stay physically active. Have your total blood cholesterol checked again in 5 years.
If your total cholesterol is borderline high, that means it ranges from 200 to 239 mg/dL. You have increased risk for heart disease. The first step is usually to change your lifestyle to reduce your risk. Work with your doctor to have a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Also, talk with your doctor about controlling any other risk factors you may have, such as smoking. If your HDL is 40 mg/dL or higher and you have fewer than two risk factors, you should have your total cholesterol checked again in 1 to 2 years.
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Whatdoes It Mean To Have Total Cholesterol Level 200
Total cholesterollevel 200-239 mg/dl is classified as borderline cholesterol. This meansthat your cholesterol level is above normal, but not quite in the high rangeyet.
Havingtotal cholesterol level 200-239 mg/dl increases the risk ofcardiovascular events. In calculating the risk of this event, your doctor mustalso consider:
· The levels of LDL or badcholesterol
· The levels of HDL or goodcholesterol
· If having other diseases such asdiabetes, high blood pressure or smoking.
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.
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