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What Is A Bad Cholesterol Number

Why High Cholesterol Matters

Cholesterol Numbers: What They Mean & Why They Matter – Dr. Philip Pippin

High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the U.S. High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and restricting blood flow. If some of this plaque breaks off and gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can block the artery and cut off blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in heart attack or stroke.

How Can A High Ldl Level Raise My Risk Of Coronary Artery Disease And Other Diseases

If you have a high LDL level, this means that you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. This extra LDL, along with other substances, forms plaque. The plaque builds up in your arteries this is a condition called atherosclerosis.

Coronary artery disease happens when the plaque buildup is in the arteries of your heart. It causes the arteries to become hardened and narrowed, which slows down or blocks the blood flow to your heart. Since your blood carries oxygen to your heart, this means that your heart may not be able to get enough oxygen. This can cause angina , or if the blood flow is completely blocked, a heart attack.

Myth: I Dont Need Statins Or Other Medicines For My Cholesterol I Can Manage My Cholesterol With Diet And Exercise

Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Guidelinesexternal icon also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.2

People who may need statins or other medicines to manage cholesterol levels include the following:

  • People with familial hypercholesterolemia or people with very high levels of bad cholesterol. FH is a genetic condition that causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age. If left untreated, cholesterol levels will continue to get worse. This greatly raises the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke at a young age.
  • People with cardiovascular disease . People with CVD may already have narrowed arteries because of too much plaque. Medicines that lower cholesterol may help reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • People with diabetes.Type 2 diabetes lowers HDL or good cholesterol levels and raises bad cholesterol levels. This combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Other groups of people may also need medicines to manage their cholesterol, including people who have a high risk for CVD. Always talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your cholesterol.

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The Pros And Cons Of Total Cholesterol Hdl Ldl And Triglyceride Testing

Time to get your cholesterol checked. Okay, but which test should you get? It’s not so simple anymore. Here is a rundown of some of the choices and their pros and cons:

Total cholesterol. This is the simplest and least expensive test. The test doesn’t require any sophisticated lab work, either. The simple, do-it-yourself home cholesterol tests measure total cholesterol.

But total cholesterol includes both “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and the “bad” varieties, chiefly low-density lipoprotein and very-low-density lipoprotein . So, if your total cholesterol is in the desirable category, it’s possible that you may have unhealthy levels of HDL and LDL and VLDL . Think of total cholesterol as a first glimpse, a peek. Doctors are not supposed to make any treatment decisions based on this number alone.

Cholesterol levels can be lowered by stress or infection. An injury, cancer, stroke, or heart attack may have the same effect. So, if your cholesterol levels are unusually high or low, your doctor will probably want to repeat the test some weeks later. Abnormal readings may also lead to tests for other medical problems.

HDL cholesterol. HDL wins its laurels as the “good” cholesterol because it sponges up cholesterol from blood vessel walls and ferries it to the liver for disposal. In contrast, LDL deposits the harmful fat in vessel walls.

An HDL level of 60 or above is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and below 40 is associated with a higher risk.

Cholesterol: The Good And The Bad Of It

A Guide to Healthy Cholesterol

HDL High-density lipoprotein

  • Makes up 20%30% of total cholesterol
  • The “good” cholesterol
  • Moves cholesterol from arteries to the liver.

LDL Low-density lipoprotein

  • Makes up 60%70% of total cholesterol
  • Main form of “bad” cholesterol
  • Causes build-up of plaque inside arteries.

VLDL Very-low-density lipoprotein

  • Makes up 10%15% of total cholesterol
  • With LDL, the main form of “bad” cholesterol
  • A precursor of LDL.

LDL cholesterol. The LDL measurement is usually considered the most important for assessing risk and deciding on treatment. The definition of a healthy level keeps on getting lower. For people at low risk of heart disease, an LDL of less than 100 is desirable, However, people at higher risk of heart disease, an LDL of less than 70 or perhaps even lower is considered “optimal.” Some experts say that an LDL of less than 70 would be a healthy LDL goal for all of us.

Your LDL is computed by plugging the measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides into a: LDL = Total cholesterol HDL . LDL can also be measured directly in a non-fasting blood sample.

You have to fast for about 10 hours before the test because triglyceride levels can shoot up 20%30% after a meal, which would throw off the equation. Alcohol also causes a triglyceride surge, so you shouldn’t drink alcohol for 24 hours before a fasting cholesterol test.

The numbers to know

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What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol a waxy substance that builds in the arteries is not completely harmful, despite its reputation for being bad for you. In fact, some of it can even improve your health when consumed in the right amounts.

The physicians at the USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute at Keck Medicine of USC can measure your good cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels, and help you adopt healthier eating and living habits so you can achieve the best balance of both.

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.

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What Do The Results Mean

The results of the test determine whether the cholesterol levels in the persons blood are healthy.

The results will be broken down into several categories by the type of fat. The results are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood .

Total cholesterol levels

Having a result less than 200 mg/dL is considered good. Borderline high results range from 200-239 mg/dL. High cholesterol levels are considered to be any number over 240 mg/dL.

HDL cholesterol levels

With HDL, it is higher levels that are desirable. A result below 40 mg/dL is poor. A result between 40 and 59 mg/dL is better, while a reading of 60 mg/dL or higher is the best result.

LDL cholesterol levels

LDL cholesterol recommendations vary based on the health of an individual.

  • People with heart disease or diabetes should aim for LDL levels below 70 mg/dL.
  • Individuals with no heart disease but who are at higher risk for heart disease need to keep levels below 100 mg/dL.
  • For people with no increased risk of heart disease, LDL levels between 100 and 129 mg/dL are near perfect.
  • A reading from 130 to 159 mg/dL is considered borderline high for those with no heart disease and high for those where heart disease is present.
  • A reading from 160 to 189 mg/dL is considered high for those without heart disease and very high for those with heart disease.
  • A reading above 190 mg/dL is considered very high for all groups.

Triglyceride levels

Lifestyle changes for high cholesterol include the following:

How Do I Know What My Ldl Level Is

How you can lower your bad cholesterol level

A blood test can measure your cholesterol levels, including LDL. When and how often you should get this test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:

For people who are age 19 or younger:

  • The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
  • Children should have the test again every 5 years
  • Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke

For people who are age 20 or older:

  • Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
  • Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years

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What Are The Different Types Of Cholesterol

There are two types: high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . As a general rule, HDL is considered good cholesterol, while LDL is considered bad. This is because HDL carries cholesterol to your liver, where it can be removed from your bloodstream before it builds up in your arteries. LDL, on the other hand, takes cholesterol directly to your arteries. This can result in atherosclerosis, a plaque buildup that can even cause heart attack and stroke.

Good Cholesterol Numbershdl Is Your Friend

When you hear someone talking about good cholesterol, they are referring to HDL, or high density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are simply complexes that carry fat around the body. HDLs job is to go around the body looking for bad cholesterol, or LDL which we will get to shortly. Once it finds LDL, it removes it from the bloodstream and brings it to the liver to be processed.

So HDLs job is to clear out the LDL. So think of HDL as Batman and LDL is the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and all of their cronies. Every day your bodys supply of HDL is fighting the LDL in an ongoing battle for cardiovascular health.

So when people talk about good cholesterol numbers, they mean the amount of HDL in your bloodstream. So what is the ideal amount of HDL? Anything over 60 mg/dL is considered good. In general, it should be over 40 for men, and over 50 for women. Anything less than that is considered a risk for heart disease.

Now lets take a look at HDLs arch enemy

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What Are The Normal Cholesterol Levels For Men And Women

A cholesterol test generally determines 4 distinct numbers: Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Cholesterol being fat, it is not soluble in water. So it cannot circulate freely in the blood. But, the fact is that nature has devised a way to make water-soluble cholesterol, and transport it through the blood. This is by lipoproteins. The LDL or Low-density lipoprotein and the HDL or high-density lipoprotein are the 2 fundamental cholesterol carriers but to make things simpler, they are considered as cholesterol types. In addition, the lipid panel appraises the triglycerides . They have an impact on health in the same manners as cholesterol. At last, the total cholesterol is integrated as well in the results. Apart from these 4 general lipid levels, your doctor may want to access your very low-density lipoprotein or VLDL that is considered bad when high.

Your Test Results: A Preview

Heres how to tell what your cholesterol number means ...

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.

Watch an animation about cholesterol score.

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How Often Should I Get A Cholesterol Test

When and how often you should get a cholesterol test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:

For people who are age 19 or younger:

  • The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
  • Children should have the test again every 5 years
  • Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke

For people who are age 20 or older:

  • Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
  • Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years

How To Manage Cholesterol Levels

In most cases, the best way to manage your cholesterol levels is to make healthier lifestyle choices. If you are a smoker, its time to quit. You also need to cut back on the amount of fatty meats you consume. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables and increase your activity levels. These changes will also help you lose weight if you are overweight.

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What Is High Cholesterol

There are two major forms of cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein or LDL, also known as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein or HDL, also called “good” cholesterol. LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque. HDL, on the other hand, clears cholesterol from your blood.

Besides LDL and HDL, thereâs another kind of fat in your blood called triglycerides. Research shows that high levels of triglycerides, just like high levels of LDL, are linked to heart disease.

Your body needs cholesterol to build new cells, insulate nerves, and make hormones. Having too much, though, is a major risk for heart disease.

Ordinarily, your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But you also get cholesterol from food. You’ll find these in many processed foods like doughnuts, frozen pizza, cookies, and crackers. You can also get it from milk, eggs, meat, and other animal products. Over time, without your even being aware, this extra cholesterol collects inside your body and begins to do damage.

The American Heart Association Recommends

What is Cholesterol? | LDL and HDL | Good and Bad Cholesterol

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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Understanding Cholesterol And Your Heart

Your heart actually has nothing to do with the production of cholesterol, but it is responsible for circulating the serum cholesterol through your body via your bloodstream.

When all goes well, your heart is happy to do its job with no complications, and you are one healthy and happy camper thanks to the cholesterol keeping your bodily functions working properly.

Whats A Healthy Cholesterol Level

  • LDL cholesterol for adults should be below 100 mg/dL.
  • HDL cholesterol for men should be over 40 mg/dL.
  • HDL cholesterol for women should be over 50 mg/dL.
  • Total cholesterol should be between 125 and 200 mg/dL.

Cholesterol levels typically increase with age, which means that it becomes increasingly important to monitor cholesterol levels and take steps to manage your cholesterol as you get older.

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Getting Your Cholesterol Checked

Many people have never had their cholesterol checked, so they dont know whether they are at risk.

High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms.

The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team can do a simple blood test, called a lipid profile, to measure your cholesterol levels.

Risks Of Untreated High Cholesterol

Protecting Your Heart: What is a Healthy Cholesterol Level ...

High cholesterol often has no signs and symptoms but can have devastating health consequences. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the arteries and can harden. This buildup of plaque narrows the arteries and reduces and slows the blood flow to the heart. If the blood supply to any part of the heart is totally blocked, a heart attack occurs.

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