Sliding Scale For Ldl: How Low Should You Go
The target for the safest amount of “bad” cholesterol continues to drift downward.
In 1986, a “desirable” blood level of low-density lipoprotein was 130 milligrams per deciliter . Today, information from medical anthropologists and some high-powered clinical trials suggests the new “desirable” should be half that. This has guideline writers, doctors, and the rest of us wondering: how low should we go with LDL?
How To Increase Hdl Cholesterol
Although HDL levels are driven by family genetics, you can improve HDL levels in three key ways:
- If you are a smoker, research clearly shows that quitting smoking can increase HDL.
- Adopting a heart-healthy diet low in fat and high in fiber can also modestly raise your HDL.
- Aerobic exercise can also have positive effects on HDL. Have trouble exercising? Find a buddy research shows it helps motivate you. That exercise can be as simple as increasing the amount of walking you do each week.
Lastly, although primarily used to decrease high LDL, some statin medications may potentially increase HDL levels moderately. Any medical treatment option should be discussed with your doctor. Importantly, high HDL does not protect you from the untoward effects of high LDL.
Understanding What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean
Medical professionals typically perform cholesterol levels testing among the battery of medical check-ups. They do so because high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia is a popular medical condition that may considerably have an impact on your heart and overall health. To evaluate your blood cholesterol levels, your physician is going to perform a blood test known as a lipid panel, as well as a lipid profile. It is recommended to not eat or drink anything, apart from water, for approximately 9 hours before the exam to ensure correct evaluation results., while recent studies suggest that it is not necessary. With this guide, you will understand what your results mean. You will know about the total cholesterol, the HDL, the LDL, the triglycerides and even a less popular lipoprotein such as the VLDL. Keep reading!
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Treatments For High Cholesterol Levels
If your doctor determines that your cholesterol levels are borderline or too high, they may start you on a management plan to lower your levels. Ways to manage your cholesterol levels include:
Your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication, like statins, if you are at an increased heart disease risk. Statins are used as a preventive measure because they treat plaque buildup in your arteries.
Diet and lifestyle
According to Erin Michos, M.D., quoted in Johns Hopkins Medicine, diet and lifestyle are very important to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Reducing the amount of saturated fats you eat and exercising for at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week can help you lose weight and reduce your cholesterol levels.
Limit smoking and alcohol intake
If you smoke and your cholesterol levels are high, you are at greater risk for artery buildup which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you are able to, you should consider a plan to give up smoking. Limiting your alcohol consumption can also help lower your triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.
Which Cholesterol Number Is Most Important
When we measure cholesterol and blood fats, were really talking about three different numbers: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. They combine to give you a lipid profile score, but the three individual scores are most important. Here are the numbers to strive for: Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower.
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Add Coconut Oil To The Diet
Studies have shown that coconut oil may reduce appetite, increase metabolic rate, and help protect brain health, among other benefits.
Some people may be concerned about coconut oils effects on heart health due to its high saturated fat content. However, it appears that coconut oil is actually quite heart-healthy.
Some studies have shown that coconut oil tends to raise HDL cholesterol more than many other types of fat.
In addition, some studies have shown that coconut oil may improve the ratio of low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. Improving this ratio reduces heart disease risk .
One study examined the health effects of coconut oil consumption in 40 females with excess abdominal fat. The researchers found that those who took coconut oil daily had increased HDL cholesterol and a lower LDL-to-HDL ratio.
In contrast, the group who took soybean oil daily had a decrease in HDL cholesterol and an increase in the LDL-to-HDL ratio .
However, more recent reviews suggest that the research into coconut oil and cholesterol is of poor quality, is not conclusive, and often reports that coconut oil can raise the levels of LDL cholesterol. Therefore, more research is needed .
Most studies have found that these health benefits occur at a dosage of about 2 tbsp of coconut oil per day. It is best to incorporate this into cooking rather than eating spoonfuls of coconut oil on their own.
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.
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Ldl Cholesterol Test Levels And Normal Range
LDL Cholesterol levels, if maintained at normal levels, can act as a friend as well as a foe. However, if these levels exceed the normal range, it can become a silent danger that increases the risk of heart attacks. Cholesterol exists in every cell in the body. It contains crucial natural functions. Although produced by the body, it can also be inhibited through food. This waxy and fat-like element is oil based and doesnt mix with the blood . Therefore, it is carried around the body in the blood by lipoproteins.
High Blood Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood. Too much of it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The condition doesn’t have any obvious symptoms so blood tests are required to confirm if a person has high blood cholesterol.
Changes to diet, regular exercise and other lifestyle changes can reduce cholesterol levels In some cases, people with persistent high blood cholesterol may be treated with cholesterol-lowering medication.
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What Is The Difference Between Hdl And Ldl Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, seems to act as a scavenger and carries LDL, the bad cholesterol out of the arteries and back to the liver. LDL cholesterol contributes to fatty buildups in the arteries , which results in deposits of cholesterol that narrow the arteries and increases the risk for a heart attack, stroke, other heart diseases, and peripheral artery disease. Moreover, triglycerides also are in the blood. Triglycerides can increase the risk for these diseases if there are low levels of HDL and high levels of LDL in the blood.
What Are VLDL ?
VLDL are compounds in the plasma of the blood composed of triglycerides, small amounts of cholesterol, phospholipids, fat-soluble vitamins, and protein. VLDL transports fats primarily from the liver to peripheral sites. Unfortunately, VLDL has been associated with the development of plaque deposits that can restrict blood flow, like LDL. Restricted bloodstream flow to any artery, especially a coronary artery, can lead to high blood pressure and other serious cardiovascular problems.
What’s Considered As Normal Cholesterol Levels
Many factors influence what your personal cholesterol or lipid targets should be, and so cholesterol tests should be interpreted in the context of your personal risk.
Your doctor can help you understand your results and guide you on strategies to not only lower your cholesterol but lower your risk of heart disease.
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How To Lower Cholesterol: Low
Low-carbohydrate diets may help improve HDL cholesterol levels. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study that found while both low-fat and low-carb dieters lost weight over the two-year study period, low-carb dieters also improved their HDL cholesterol levels. The problem with low-carb diets is that they may be difficult to adhere to. Consult your doctor about the best healthy eating plan to manage your cholesterol.
How To Lower Cholesterol: Know Your Fats
The American Heart Association recommends that just 25% to 35% of your daily calories come from fats such as those found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. For healthy people, saturated fat should comprise no more than 7% of your total calories. On a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, that’s about 140 calories worth of saturated fat. If you need to lower your LDL cholesterol, limit saturated fat to 5% to 6% of calories, or about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000-calorie diet. Reduce trans fats to less than 1% of your total daily calories. This means avoiding fried foods and many junk foods.
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Cholesterol Levels For Men And Women
HDL levels differ for men and women
Women naturally have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men due to differences in the genes. Women should aim for an HDL cholesterol level above 1.2mmol/L while men should aim for above 1mmol/L.
Cholesterol levels can rise during pregnancy
During pregnancy, both cholesterol and triglyceride levels can significantly rise. We don’t recommend getting a cholesterol test during pregnancy because your results won’t be accurate. Our advice is to wait until at least 6-8 weeks after your baby is born or after you stop breastfeeding to get a cholesterol test. This means you don’t need to worry unnecessarily. Find out more about pregnancy and blood fats.
Cholesterol levels rise during the menopause
Women may also find their cholesterol levels rise during the menopause.
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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New Guidelines On The Horizon
Some of the country’s top cholesterol experts are now at work revising the guidelines that doctors use to identify and treat cholesterol problems. Ask these experts what they want their LDLs to be, and the odds are good that many will say 70 or so. Whether they will ratchet down the LDL target for everyone, though, is up in the air. For one thing, there is still relatively little information from randomized controlled trials on the balance of benefits and risks of drastically lowering LDL. For another, such a recommendation could conceivably put millions more American adults on a cholesterol-lowering statin.
The panel’s report is due out in 2012. It will be interesting to see if it further lowers the bar for a desirable LDL. Until then, a prudent course of action is to aim for the LDL target that’s appropriate for you , and to have a conversation with your doctor about getting there.
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 number 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 .
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When High Cholesterol Is Good
There are two main types of cholesterol in the body, and only one of them is usually considered to be a risk to heart health.
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol contributes to the fatty buildup that can clog the arteries. When this buildup clogs or narrows the arteries, a heart attack or stroke is more likely to occur. With LDL cholesterol, lower is better.
HDL cholesterol is useful for the heart. HDL cholesterol may remove LDL cholesterol from the blood and transport it to the liver, where it can be processed and eliminated. A higher HDL number is desirable because it usually signals a lower risk of heart disease.
Medicines To Lower Your Cholesterol Level
Medicines called statins are most often used to lower cholesterol levels. There are other cholesterol-lowering medicines that your doctor might prescribe, like resins, fibrates, and niacin. If you need to take a medicine to lower your cholesterol level, your doctor will help you find the one that works best for you.
Estrogen replacement therapy lowers your bad cholesterol level and raises your good cholesterol level. However, studies have not shown that it lowers the risk of heart disease.
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How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body
Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
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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.
How Is A Lipid Disorder Diagnosed
To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will order a blood test called a lipid profile, or lipid panel. This test measures your total cholesterol and triglycerides. Before this test, your doctor will likely ask you to avoid eating and drinking liquids other than water for at least 8 to 12 hours.
The lipid profile measures cholesterol in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter . Your total cholesterol level should be no higher than 200 mg/dL. Learn how to understand your cholesterol results.
A combination of medications and lifestyle changes is a common treatment plan to correct high cholesterol and triglycerides. Your doctor may also suggest certain supplements.
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How To Lower High Ldl Cholesterol
- A healthy diet. Try not to eat things that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, or simple carbs such as sugar and white flour. Eat more fiber and plant sterols such as margarine or nuts.
- Regular exercise. The kind that gets your heart pumping is best.
- Weight loss. Losing even 5 to 10 pounds can improve your cholesterol levels.
- Quitting tobacco. If you have a hard time giving up smoking, your doctor can help you find the program thatâs best for you.
- Medication. Some drugs, like statins, help keep your body from making cholesterol. Another, ezetimibe , lowers the amount of cholesterol your body gets from food you eat. If you canât take statins or have a severe form of high cholesterol, you might get shots of PCSK9 inhibitors. These meds help your liver remove more LDL from your blood.