What Makes Hdl Cholesterol So Good
HDL is short for high-density lipoprotein. Each bit of HDL cholesterol is a microscopic blob that consists of a rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol center. The HDL cholesterol particle is dense compared to other types of cholesterol particles, so it’s called high-density.
Cholesterol isn’t all bad. In fact, cholesterol is an essential fat. It provides stability in every cell of your body.
To travel through the bloodstream, cholesterol has to be transported by helper molecules called lipoproteins. Each lipoprotein has its own preferences for cholesterol, and each acts differently with the cholesterol it carries.
Experts believe HDL cholesterol may act in a variety of helpful ways that tend to reduce the risk for heart disease:
- HDL cholesterol scavenges and removes LDL — or “bad” — cholesterol.
- HDL reduces, reuses, and recycles LDL cholesterol by transporting it to the liver where it can be reprocessed.
- HDL cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls of blood vessels. Damage to the inner walls is the first step in the process of atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes. HDL scrubs the wall clean and keeps it healthy
How Do I Know What My Ldl Level Is
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
How Often Should I Get My Cholesterol Checked
Your provider will tell you how often you need your cholesterol checked. It depends on your:
- Age: The older you get, the more often you need to have your numbers checked.
- Family history: If you have a close biological family member with a history of heart disease, you face a higher risk of heart problems, too. You may need cholesterol tests more often if your family member has high cholesterol or a history of heart attack or stroke.
- Risk factors for heart disease: If youve been diagnosed with heart disease or have risk factors, youll need cholesterol tests more often.
- Sex assigned at birth: People assigned male at birth need more frequent tests starting at a younger age compared with people assigned female at birth.
Children and teens age 19 and younger should get their first test between ages 9 and 11. Then, they should receive a test every five years. Your childs provider may recommend starting at a younger age based on family history.
Here are general guidelines for adults based on sex and age.
People assigned male at birth
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What Are Good Levels For The Hdl Cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol levels greater than 60 milligrams per deciliter are high. That’s good.
- HDL cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL are low. That’s not so good.
In general, people with high HDL are at lower risk for heart disease. People with low HDL are at higher risk.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels By Age
The recommended ranges for your cholesterol will vary based on age and gender. As people get older, cholesterol levels rise naturally. For example, people who have gone through menopause may have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels.
The following table was adapted from the Cleveland Clinic :
|Cholesterol Levels by Age: Normal, Borderline, and High|
|Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL||160189 mg/dL|
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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:
What Is Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol moves in the body combined with proteins. This combination of cholesterol and proteins is called lipoproteins. The low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol is called bad cholesterol. High levels of this cholesterol increase risk for heart diseases and stroke.
When you have high levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, the LDL cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of the blood vessels forming a plaque. The continuous cholesterol build-up or a plaque narrows the inside of the blood vessels with time. The narrowed blood vessel hampers the blood supply to the concerned organ. Thus, when the plaque is present in the heart, it can cause angina or a heart attack. Plaque build-up in the brain can cause a stroke.
Another type of cholesterol is HDL cholesterol. It is also called good cholesterol as it absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from the body. HDL cholesterol, thus, can lower your risk for heart diseases and stroke.
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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.
Why Do I Need A Lipid Panel Blood Test
There are several reasons why you may need a lipid panel blood test. Healthcare providers use lipid panels often for screen and monitoring purposes.
If you have one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your provider may suggest frequent screening through the use of a lipid panel to try to catch elevated cholesterol levels before you have symptoms. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:
- Being over age 45 if youre a man or you were assigned male at birth and over 50 if youre a women or you were assigned female at birth.
- Having a high cholesterol result on a previous test.
- Having diabetes or prediabetes.
- Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease at an early age .
Children can also have high cholesterol, so your child may need a lipid panel blood test. Cholesterol levels in children are linked to three factors: heredity, diet and obesity. In most cases, kids with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated cholesterol.
While providers mostly use lipid panels for screening or monitoring cholesterol levels, providers sometimes use them as part of the diagnostic process for certain health conditions that can affect your lipid levels, including:
If youre experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions, your provider may have you undergo a lipid panel blood test.
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Drug Therapies To Treat High Cholesterol
When lifestyle changes alone cannot bring down high cholesterol, doctors may recommend medications. The reports that the following drugs and supplements can help:
- Statins: These drugs keep the liver from producing cholesterol.
- Bile acid sequestrants: These drugs reduce the amount of fat that the body absorbs from food.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: These drugs lower levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood and reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.
- Some vitamins and supplements: These, such as niacin, stop the liver from removing HDL and lower levels of triglycerides.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These raise HDL levels and lower triglyceride levels.
Cholesterol Levels For Adults
A doctor may classify a persons levels as high or low, borderline, or healthy.
Total cholesterol levels under 200 mg/dl are healthy for adults. Doctors treat readings of 200239 mg/dl as borderline high, and readings of at least 240 mg/dl as high.
Ideally, LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dl. Doctors may not express concern about levels of 100129 mg/dl for people with no health issues, but they may suggest treatment at this stage for people with heart disease or its risk factors.
If a persons reading is 130159 mg/dl, it is borderline high, while readings of 160189 mg/dl are high. A reading of at least 190 mg/dl is very high.
Doctors recommend keeping HDL levels higher. People with a reading of less than 40 mg/dl may have a risk of heart disease.
If a persons reading is 4159 mg/dl, doctors consider this borderline low. Optimal HDL levels are 60 mg/dl or higher.
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What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels
Normal cholesterol levels vary based on your age and sex assigned at birth.
Normal cholesterol levels by age chart
The chart below shows normal cholesterol levels. Healthcare providers consider these numbers healthy for most people. If you have heart disease or many risk factors, your LDL target may be different. Your healthcare provider may want your LDL level to be below 70 mg/dL. So, its important to talk with your provider about your test results and what they mean for you.
All units in the chart below are mg/dL.
People assigned male at birth: 40 or higher
People assigned female at birth: 50 or higher
As you review your results, remember that you want your LDL to be low and your HDL to be high. Ideally, your HDL should be above 60. Its the helpful cholesterol. An HDL above 60 offers you protection against heart disease.
Most normal cholesterol levels are the same regardless of your sex. But there is one key difference among adults. Thats your HDL number. As the chart above shows, people assigned female at birth need a higher HDL level compared with people assigned male at birth .
Should I Be Concerned If I Have Abnormal Lipid Panel Results
If your lipid results reveal that you have high levels of total cholesterol, LDL and/or triglycerides and/or low levels of HDL, it doesnt necessarily mean that you have a medical condition or need treatment.
A healthy cholesterol range for you may depend on many factors. Your healthcare provider will take into consideration the following factors when interpreting your lipid panel results:
- Your current medications.
- Other risk factors you may have for cardiovascular disease.
Many providers use a special risk calculator using these factors to determine if you need further tests or treatment. If you have questions about your results, dont be afraid to talk to your provider.
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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.
What Do The Results Of A Lipid Panel Mean
Blood test reports, including lipid panel blood test reports, usually provide the following information:
- The name of the blood test or what was measured in your blood.
- The number or measurement of your blood test result.
- The normal measurement range for that test.
- Information that indicates if your result is normal or abnormal or high or low.
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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
What Kind Of Test Measures Cholesterol
Your provider checks your cholesterol levels through a blood test called a lipid panel . Your provider will draw blood from a vein in your arm and send the blood to a lab for analysis. Be sure to closely follow your providers instructions on how to prepare for the test. Youll likely need to fast for 12 hours beforehand. This means avoiding all foods and drinks except water.
When your results come in, your provider will let you know. You may also be able to access your results through your electronic medical record.
Your lipid panel gives you the following numbers:
More Information About An Hdl Level Of 72
HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is commonly called “good cholesterol” because of its role in attaching to and removing LDL from the bloodsteam.
An HDL level of 72 may be written on a lab report as 72 mg/dL, or milligrams per deciliter. This means there would be 72 milligrams of HDL per deciliter of blood. For reference, 1 deciliter is equal to 100 milliliters, or approximately 3.38 US fluid ounces.
Whats The Difference Between Hdl Ldl And Vldl
Cholesterol is a lipoprotein made of fat and protein. It is divided into three categories: high-density lipoprotein , low-density lipoprotein , and very low-density lipoprotein , and each impacts your body differently. HDL is considered good cholesterol as it helps move bad cholesterol from other parts of your body to your liver for removal. LDL is considered bad cholesterol because high levels can lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, said Chiadika. VLDL is considered bad cholesterol as well but it mainly carries triglycerides, the most common type of fat in your body. Excess levels can also contribute to health complications such as heart disease.
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How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day|
|69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include: