How Can I Lower My Ldl Level
There are two main ways to lower your LDL cholesterol:
- Therapeutic lifestyle changes . TLC includes three parts:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol 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 .
- 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-lowering drugs 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 still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
What To Know About Triglycerides
In addition to cholesterol, you might hear about your triglycerides, another kind of fat found in the bloodstream. Women should pay particular attention to this. A high level of triglycerides seems to predict an even greater risk for heart disease in women compared with men, says Michos.
When you take in more calories than you need, your body converts the extra calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy, but people with excess triglycerides have higher risk of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. Drinking a lot of alcohol and eating foods containing simple carbohydrates , saturated fats and trans fats contributes to high triglycerides. High levels may also be caused by health conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome or kidney disease.
Triglycerides also circulate in the bloodstream on particles that may contribute to plaque formation. Many people with high triglycerides have other risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high LDL levels or low HDL levels, or abnormal blood sugar levels. Genetic studies have also shown some association between triglycerides and cardiovascular disease.
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What Is Cholesterol Ratio And What Should Yours Be
To find your cholesterol ratio, you divide your total cholesterol number by your HDL, or good, cholesterol number. For example, if your total cholesterol number is 200 and your good cholesterol is 50, your total cholesterol ratio is 4:1.
Cholesterol ratio may be used as a monitoring tool by some health care specialists. However, the AHA suggests that doctors use LDLcholesterol with patients rather than cholesterol ratio. That’s because the total cholesterol number is considered a better tool for guiding the doctor in planning the best patient care and helping patients understand their health risks. Discuss with your doctor what the best numbers to monitor for you are.
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Normal Range For Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter . Below are the healthy levels of cholesterol, based on your gender and age:
Children age 19 and younger
The total cholesterol you want is less than 170mg/dL. You want less than 100mg/dL of LDL. You also want more than 45mg/dL of HDL. If your childs LDL cholesterol levels are higher than an adults, your doctor may prescribe a treatment plan and lifestyle change.
Women over 20
The total cholesterol women want ranges from 125 to 200mg/dL. Their LDL levels should be less than 100mg/dL. They should have 50mg/dL or higher of HDL.
Men over 20
A normal range for mens total cholesterol is 125 to 200mg/dL. Men will want less than 100mg/dL of LDL. You will also want 40mg/dL of HDL cholesterol.
Why Ldl Cholesterol Is Bad
The chief issue when there are excessive levels of LDL is the formation of plaque within the walls of arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. This substance stiffens, narrows, and hardens the walls of the arteries, which pump oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Not only does this directly disrupt this process, it can lead to plaque ruptures, which cause different types of blood cells to come rushing towards the exposed ruptured plaque, stick to it, and acutely clog the artery.;The acute clogging can cause a heart attack or stroke depending upon which artery is clogged.
Constriction or blockages of blood flow lead to a veritable cascade of serious health conditions. When they occur in cardiac arteries , you can develop CAD, which can lead to heart attack. High LDL is also associated with diseases of other arteries, as in PAD and carotid artery disease. Blockages in carotid arteries from CAD can lead to a stroke, while blockages in peripheral arteries are more likely to cause pain in the arms or legs.
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Why Cholesterol Levels Differ In Men And Women
Healthy cholesterol levels are the same for boys and girls through childhood. But this changes when puberty hits. “Women have higher HDL cholesterol from puberty on. Boys have more testosterone, which lowers HDL,”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, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Essentially, after puberty, women tend to have higher levels of “good” cholesterol than men. “Theoretically, this is why women live longer and tend to have heart attacks later in life ,” Dr. Eckel says.
Pregnant women or older women taking hormone-replacement therapy to manage menopausal symptoms tend to have higher average cholesterol, Dr. Eckel says. But this increase is actually caused by HDL, which can be quite high for these groups.
“It’s important to understand that, if HDL is high, it’s distributed in a form of cholesterol that we’re not concerned about,” he says. “In fact, it may be protecting women from the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.”
This is why understanding the difference between HDL and LDL is so important simply having high total cholesterol may not be an issue if it’s caused by elevated levels of good cholesterol.
Why Do I Need A Cholesterol Test
You will get a free NHS cholesterol test if you have a number of risk factors for high cholesterol including if youre over 40, have coronary heart disease or diabetes, have had a stroke or mini stroke, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease or a cholesterol-related condition.
Understanding your cholesterol levels
We hear a lot about the dangers of high cholesterol, but unless you have a blood test, you have …
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What Foods Help Lower Ldl Cholesterol
A heart-healthy diet that is high in fiber and plant-based foods can help lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. Mainly vegetarian or vegan diets have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of blocked arteries. Foods that can help lower LDL cholesterol include:
If diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your cholesterol to healthy ranges, then your doctor may prescribe medication. The type of cholesterol lowering medication depends upon your levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides; and any current medications you are currently taking, and your overall health.
Medication options to reduce cholesterol include statins, niacin, and fibric acid agents . Your doctor may prescribe one or several types of these drugs to reduce your cholesterol levels to a healthy range.
Can Ldl Cholesterol Levels Be Too Low
There is no medically-established LDL level that’s too low; however, scores of 40 mg/dL or below have been associated with depression, anxiety, and stroke. Very low levels are also a hallmark of familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, a genetic disorder that causes problems with fat absorption and liver health, while leading to vitamin deficiencies.
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Testing For High Cholesterol
A simple blood test to assess cholesterol levels can be done by your family doctor or at a medical clinic. Your doctor will likely assess other risk factors for cardiovascular disease at the same time. A sample of blood is taken from a vein and is sent to a laboratory for testing. Cholesterol tests may be done using a finger prick of blood, however this is not as accurate as testing blood from a vein.
Blood cholesterol tests can be “fasting” or “non-fasting”. Fasting tests require the person not to have eaten for a period of time prior to the test being taken and give more accurate results than non-fasting tests.
New Zealand health guidelines for acceptable blood cholesterol levels are:
- LDL-cholesterol less than 2.0 mmol/L
- HDL-cholesterol greater than 1.0 mmol/L
- Triglycerides less than 1.7 mmol/L
- Total cholesterol less than 4.0 mmol/L
- Total cholesterol/HDL ratio less than 4.0.
Are Home Cholesterol Testing Kits Accurate
The answer is yes if the tests are labeled CDC-certified. This means that the contents have been approved by the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network, a group that works with test makers, laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure tests are accurate.
For home tests, you will still need to fast for 12 hours and to obtain blood for testing. Some kits come with packages for mailing to a lab for results. Other kits have a monitor so you can get the results at home. The cost of such home kits vary.
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Why Is Hdl The Good Cholesterol And Ldl The Bad
Your total cholesterol is the sum of the fats in your blood, which includes the LDL and HDL cholesterol. This number can give you an indication of your risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, vascular disease, or stroke.
More importantly, the amounts of each type of cholesterol are a better predictor of risk for disease than the total amount. Doctors and other health care professionals consider LDL cholesterol the bad cholesterol. Increased numbers of LDL cholesterol indicate more risk for blocked arteries and health problems.
Doctors consider HDL cholesterol the good cholesterol, and they interpret its levels in the opposite manner of LDL. The higher your HDL cholesterol numbers, the lower your risk is for heart disease, vascular disease, and stroke. HDL cholesterol also may have a protective effect on the blood vessels, and a high level of HDL in your body may keep cardiovascular disease from developing.
Triglycerides also are part of a cholesterol profile, and these numbers are more indicative of the amount of fats you have eaten recently. High triglyceride levels greatly increase your risk for developing coronary artery disease, vascular disease, and stroke.
What Can Lower Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Lifestyle and diet modifications are the main way to prevent high LDL cholesterol, and to keep a healthy level of HDL cholesterol. Eat a low-fat/high-fiberdiet, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and do not smoke.
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Salsa Pico De Gallo And More
Forget about mayo or ketchup. Get out your chefs knife and start chopping. Throw together fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and other heart-healthy ingredients for fresh dips that make snacking healthier.
Be careful with store-bought salsa, which is often high in sodium. You may need to closely monitor your sodium intake if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association Recommends
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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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.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels In Australia
Most of us have heard the message that high cholesterol is bad for us, but how many of us actually know what cholesterol is, and why a high count is a problem? The answer is probably not many and for those of us who do, itâs likely weâve been misled.
Almost a decade ago, two major health campaigns urged Aussies to test their cholesterol levels with the aim of cutting their risk of developing serious heart conditions. One was Test the Nation, sponsored by a company who just happened to be spruiking a cholesterol-lowering margarine. The second, sponsored by another company with their own cholesterol-lowering products, provided alarming statistics around cholesterol, heart attacks and stroke in an attempt to promote its own products.
A review in the Medical Journal of Australia found that both campaigns were problematic for several reasons, the first being the confusion created around cholesterol being âbadâ, which is not entirely accurate.
These brands also muddied the waters around who needs to be worried about their cholesterol and when testing is recommended. Current Aussie guidelines recommend testing if your GP has concerns about your risk of heart disease or every five years for people who are over 45 or who have high blood pressure or diabetes.
Medication May Be Needed
For some people, diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. High blood cholesterol levels often have a genetic component. Some people inherit altered genes that cause high cholesterol and this cannot usually be changed sufficiently by lifestyle or diet.
If you are at risk of coronary heart disease and your LDL cholesterol level doesnt drop after scrupulous attention to diet, your doctor may recommend medications to force your blood LDL levels down. Cell cholesterol levels, however, remain normal, so lowering blood cholesterol has no effect on most cell metabolic processes.
Some people get muscle aches from statins, which are the most commonly used medication to lower blood cholesterol. However, diet and exercise will still be important, even if you are taking medication. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who treats cardiovascular disease.
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.
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What Can Affect My Ldl Level
Things that can affect your LDL level include
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise
- Weight. Being overweight tends to raise your LDL level, lower your HDL level, and increase your total cholesterol level
- Physical Activity. A lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can raise your LDL level
- Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL from your arteries, if you have less HDL, that can contribute to you having a higher LDL level.
- Age and Sex. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
- Genetics. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
- Medicines. Certain medicines, including steroids, some blood pressure medicines, and HIV/AIDS medicines, can raise your LDL level.
- Other medical conditions. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can cause a higher LDL level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
Are There Ways To Manage High Cholesterol Levels
Yes, there are ways to manage high cholesterol levels, including the following:
If your cholesterol is high, it will take time and effort to improve your cholesterol levels and cholesterol ratio. You should count on at least three months of lifestyle changes and possibly taking daily medication. The results, though — a healthier heart and lower risk of heart attack or stroke — are well worth the effort.
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