Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
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.
The Dangers Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is tough on arteries and your health. Here’s how to fight back.
When Ramona Richman’s older sister was diagnosed with high cholesterol, Richman wasn’t worried about her own risk. The San Francisco Bay Area stay-at-home mom had her weight under control and assumed that her diet was healthy. So when her doctor broke the news that she, too, had high cholesterol, she was shocked. Her reading of 269 mg/dL was well over the desirable level of less than 200 mg/dL. “My sister had high cholesterol and went on medication, so I imagine that it’s a genetic thing,” Richman, 48, says.
Genes can be a factor in high cholesterol, but so can being overweight, being physically inactive, and eating foods loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. The liver manufactures all the cholesterol a body needs, but many people get substantial amounts from their diet. Regardless of the cause, high cholesterol poses dangers. It plays a major role in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which in turn raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
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What Types Of Cholesterol Are There
There are two different types of cholesterol including:
- “Bad Cholesterol” which carry cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol is bad because it builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow which can increase the risk of a heart attack.
- “Good Cholesterol” which picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver. Having high HDL is linked to lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
What Is Familial Hypercholesterolemia
Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited condition that can cause a person to have high levels of bad cholesterol. FH can mean that a person is at a higher risk of conditions such as heart disease.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body uses to make cells, vitamins, and hormones. A persons liver produces all the cholesterol their body requires. A person can also take in cholesterol from food.
A certain amount of cholesterol in the body is necessary for normal function. However, too much bad cholesterol can cause problems. A person with FH has high levels of bad cholesterol due to a genetic defect.
Read on to learn more about FH, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments.
FH is a genetic condition that causes a person to have high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. LDL is what many people refer to as bad cholesterol.
The American Heart Association notes that about are living with FH in the United States. However, only around 10% of people with FH know they have it.
There are of FH that a person can have:
- Heterozygous FH: If one parent passes on a mutated FH gene, a person will have heterozygous FH.
- Homozygous FH: Homozygous is a rarer, more severe form of FH. Homozygous FH occurs when both parents pass on the mutated gene for FH.
who have FH experience no symptoms at all. If a person does have symptoms of FH, these can include:
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How To Lower Your Cholesterol
One of the best ways to keep your cholesterol levels healthy is to go for a balanced diet.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Fill up on plenty of starchy wholegrain foods.
- Eat fish at least once or twice a week. White fish is low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals. Oily fish, such as salmon, trout and mackerel, are rich in unsaturated fats called Omega-3 fatty acids which help to control your blood pressure, the amounts of other fats in your blood, and the function of your heart and brain.
- Always choose lean meats, poultry and lower-fat dairy foods instead of fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.
- Swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats. Avoid butter, ghee, lard and full-fat dairy foods and replace them with rapeseed and olive oils, or sunflower and corn oils.
- Include beans, nuts and soya in your diet, they are also low in saturated fats.
Being physically active and stopping smoking if you smoke will also help to lower your cholesterol.
Lowering Your Total And Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Here are some things you can do:
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Exercise regularly. For example, walk or ride a bicycle for 30 minutes at least three times a week.
Eat fewer high-fat foods, like butter, cheese, meat, and some vegetable fats . Foods that are high in saturated fat should be less than 7 percent of your total daily calories.
Eat more high-fiber foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, and whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta.
Your doctor can help you plan a heart-healthy diet. If exercising and changing your diet do not help enough, you might need to take a medicine to lower your cholesterol level.
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Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- transient ischaemic attack often known as a “mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity .
Why Cholesterol Affects Women Differently
In general, women have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men because the female sex hormone estrogen seems to boost this good cholesterol. But, like so much else, everything changes at menopause. At this point, many women experience a change in their cholesterol levels total and LDL cholesterol rise and HDL cholesterol falls. This is why women who had favorable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with elevated cholesterol later in life. Of course, genetics and lifestyle factors can play big roles, too.
Myth: All Cholesterol Is Bad For You
Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, makes up most of your bodys cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL , or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina or a heart attack.
Goals For Your Cholesterol Levels
It’s best to keep your total cholesterol level below 200. Women of any age should have an HDL level of 40 or higher.
If you already have heart disease or diabetes, or your doctor estimates that your 10-year risk of heart disease is 20 percent or higher, try to keep your LDL level below 100.
If you do not have heart disease or diabetes, but you have two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL cholesterol level below 130. Major risk factors are age over 55 cigarette smoking high blood pressure low HDL a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65.
If you have fewer than two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL level below 160.
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Other Changes To Your Diet
Although these foods provide benefit to lowering your cholesterol, making other changes to your diet and lifestyle can also help. Cut back on the cholesterol and total fat, especially saturated and trans fats that you eat. Saturated fats, like those in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils, raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats, which are sometimes found in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein , the bad, cholesterol, and lower high-density lipoprotein , the good, cholesterol.
In addition to changing your diet, keep in mind that making additional heart-healthy lifestyle changes are key to lowering your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about exercising, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight to help keep your cholesterol level low.
Whats The Best Way To Lower Cholesterol
Cutting back cholesterol to the levels we were born with reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes by a third, a study found.
There are a number of ways you can cut back, including:
- Maintain a healthy diet which is low in fatty food
- Swap saturated fat for fruit, veg and wholegrain cereals
- Give up smoking
- Take regular exercise
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High Cholesterol: Nutritionist Reveals Top Prevention Tips
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Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood, used to build healthy cells. Cholesterol can also be found in some foods, such as saturated fat and trans fats. However, high cholesterol can cause a range of health issues and puts people at risk of stroke and heart attack. However, there are some healthy diet swaps you can make to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk.
How Often To Get Tested
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , most healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years.
Your risk factors also determine how often your cholesterol should be checked. Adults who have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity need more frequent readings, as do all adults as they age.
Children should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 20 years of age. If a child has a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or is overweight or obese, their pediatrician may recommend getting checked sooner and more often.
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Recommended Normal Cholesterol Levels In The Uk
The average cholesterol level for people in the UK varies according to gender, age, and other factors out of your control. But, if youre interested in lowering cholesterol and keeping it at healthy levels, what are the figures you should be aiming for?
The NHS as a general guide recommends that total cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults, and 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk of heart and circulatory diseases. As a guide, levels of good HDL cholesterol should be at least 1mmol/L and levels of bad LDL cholesterol should be below 3mmol/L for healthy adults, and 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk.
Your doctor may talk to you about your level of non-HDL cholesterol. This is now sometimes used as a measurement instead of LDL, and includes your LDL cholesterol and other forms of bad cholesterol.
Hdl Cholesterol Or Good Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is sometimes called good cholesterol. It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
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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
How To Lower Cholesterol: Smart Protein
To reduce cholesterol, limit red meat and eat more fish and lean poultry.
How to Prepare Healthy Proteins
- Trim all fat from meats, and remove all skin from poultry before cooking.
- Broil or bake, don’t fry foods.
- Drain fat from any meats before serving.
- Avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or cold cuts, even those labeled “reduced fat,” as many are still high in saturated fats and calories.
- Oily fish such as salmon or trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce triglyceride levels and improve HDL cholesterol levels.
- Soy proteins can also have a beneficial effect and help to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
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How To Lower Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help lower it. For instance, they may recommend changes to your diet, exercise habits, or other aspects of your daily routine. If you smoke, they will likely advise you to quit.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications or other treatments to help lower your cholesterol levels. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist for more care.
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
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What Is The Most Important Cholesterol Number
Its not your fault that your cholesterol is high. The 6.1 level of cholesterol that you refer to in your question is above recommended levels but it is not excessively high. The general consensus is that we recommend that cholesterol levels should be down around 5, which is not too far off your current level of 6.1.
What Are Dangerous Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels are checked with a simple blood test and measured in milligrams per deciliter . According to the Mayo Clinic, total cholesterol is grouped into the following three categories:
- Less than 200 mg/dL is considered healthy
- Between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high
- 240 mg/dL and higher is classified as high
But it may surprise you to learn that your total cholesterol number might not give you the full picture.
A person’s level of non-HDL cholesterol is more of a concern than their total cholesterol level, says Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine, emeritus, at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, former president of the American Heart Association and president of the American Diabetes Association.
A non-HDL level is simply a person’s total cholesterol minus their HDL cholesterol. “Non-HDL cholesterol is a very important predictor for the risk of heart disease, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Eckel tells LIVESTRONG.com.
A healthy level of non-HDL cholesterol is less than 130 mg/dL, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your test results are higher, you are at an increased risk of heart disease.
But according to Dr. Eckel, studies show that non-HDL is the best predictor of cardiovascular disease, better than total cholesterol or LDL-to-HDL ratios. Though many clinicians still use other tests, Dr. Eckel says non-HDL tests are increasingly common.
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