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.
Study Population And Follow
Ninety-seven percent of the Korean population receives compulsory health insurance through the National Health Insurance Service . The Korean Metabolic Risk Factor study included 12,845,017 NHIS beneficiaries 1899 years of age who underwent routine health examinations from 2001 to 2004. Persons with missing information on serum total cholesterol, fasting glucose, blood pressure, and body mass index were excluded, as were 3,665 individuals with extreme anthropometric measures and another 210 with a missing date of the health examination. The final study population included 12,815,006 participants, who were followed until December 31, 2013 through the Resident Register of Korea. The authors were granted access to the anonymized data by the NHIS, without specific informed consent from the participants according to Korean law. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Catholic Kwandong University with a waiver of informed consent. The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology checklist for cohort studies was used to guide the reporting of our study.
Why Is Cholesterol Needed By The Body
With all of the bad publicity cholesterol gets, people are often surprised to learn that its actually necessary for our existence.
Whats also surprising is that our bodies produce cholesterol naturally. But cholesterol isnt all good, nor is it all bad its a complex topic and one worth knowing more about.
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What Are Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol circulating in the blood is carried by special particles called lipoproteins. The two major cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins are low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein :
- LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because too much of it can build up in your arteries and form plaques, which increases the risk of heart disease .
- HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and excreted.
Since your total cholesterol is a combination of your LDL cholesterol and your HDL cholesterol, ideally you want to keep your LDL levels low and your HDL levels high. There are many factors that can influence your cholesterol, including, diet, exercise, weight, genetics, and other health conditions.
When To Speak With A Doctor
There are few noticeable symptoms of high cholesterol. Emergency symptoms such as a stroke or heart attack may be the only indicator of damage from high cholesterol. This means that regular monitoring by a doctor is essential.
Most people should get their cholesterol checked with a blood test every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screening if you live with any of the following:
- a history of heart conditions
- family history of high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
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Make Your Smoothies Thicker
Smoothies are considered one of the most efficient ways to eat a lot of fruit, even vegetables, at once, but one element of your smoothie may have more impact on your waistline than you realize: the drinks density. Research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the thicker the drink is, the more full a person feels, no matter the smoothies calorie amount. This phantom fullnessor feeling full because a food is thick, not high-caloriemay help people from reaching for even more calories later, which the feeling of fullness is gone.
How To Cut Cholesterol
Begin healthy habits early, and remember that children mimic your habits. The AAP and other experts offer these tips:
Choose healthier eating habits for yourself. Your children will follow your example.
Pack your kids’ lunch. Prepare meals of no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and try to balance the types of fats included .
Cut back on fried foods, pastries, and cracker and chip snacks. These are high in fat and salt. Also limit cheese, high-fat spreads such as butter, margarine, and mayonnaise, and salad dressings. Use fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and low-fat salad dressings instead.
Allow children no more than one or two fast-food meals a week.
Remember that children have special nutritional needs. Check with your child’s health care provider or a registered dietitian before making any drastic changes in your child’s physical activity or diet.
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Cholesterol Testing In Children
“The American Heart Association recommends all children have their cholesterol first tested between ages 9 and 11 years old. Children with a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity should get their cholesterol first tested between ages 2 and 8 years old,” says Roxana Ehsani, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Kids with a strong family history or very high risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease should also have their cholesterol levels checked as early as 2 years of age, says Jerome L. Fleg, MD, medical officer in the division of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
After that, children are generally tested again between ages 17 and 21, according to the CDC.
Getting Help For Your Child
If you are worried about your child’s weight, consider consulting with a registered dietitian or expressing your concerns with your pediatrician.
Children can benefit from getting involved in meal planning, shopping, and cooking, reducing intake of sweetened beverages, and learning how to eat more fruits and vegetables. Being a good role model and getting the entire family on board is also important for making changes and providing your child with confidence.
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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.
How Can You Prevent High Cholesterol Levels And Coronary Heart Disease
Prevention methods are very much the same as treatment methods. First, dont smoke. If you do smoke, make plans to quit now. Find ways to add physical activity to each of your days. Take steps to keep your weight in a healthy range. Eat well. Consider following the Mediterranean diet. It is the only diet proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. Take care of any other medical conditions you might have by following your healthcare providers advice and instructions. Learn to really relax and calm down.
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What Cholesterol Level Is Good: Wrap
What cholesterol level is good depends on your age, sex and genetics. Whats good after the menopause or in your 60s wouldnt be considered good in your 20s!
On the other hand, there are numbers which everyone should aim to keep their cholesterol levels at to stay healthy. This will be more difficult for some due to their genetics.
If you can, I recommend doing a DNA test as early as possible to check if you have the genes associated with higher cholesterol levels. Its especially important to know whether you have the APOE4 gene because you need to start making changes to your diet and lifestyle in your 20s or 30s to keep your body healthy later in life.
And Now The Award For Most Common Medical Advice Goes To
If you live in a body thats larger than the acceptable number on that chart in your doctors office and you have elevated cholesterol levels, youll likely be advised to lose weight.
The lifestyle modification tips mentioned here might contribute to weight loss for some but not for others.
Discuss with your doctor how changes to your diet, activity level, supplements, or medication may improve your cholesterol , even if your weight doesnt change.
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The Good The Bad And The Waxy
Cholesterol is a waxy goo made by the liver and circulated through your blood to help with all kinds of processes, like making hormones, vitamin D, and acids for digesting fatty foods.
Since the liver makes enough cholesterol, you dont need to get it from dietary sources like meat, eggs, and dairy.
A blood cholesterol test will reveal numbers for LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Low density lipoprotein is the bad kind the higher this number, the higher your risk for heart disease.
High density lipoprotein is the good kind because it carries excess cholesterol to the liver to be disposed of.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood that are associated with higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol levels tend to rise between the ages of 20 and 65. Men usually experience higher cholesterol up to the age of 55. For women, menopause often triggers cholesterol to rise.
Can Children Have High Cholesterol
Unfortunately, children can have high or unhealthy cholesterol levels. In fact, in the United States, an estimated 50 percent of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have cholesterol levels that are not ideal, while 25 percent are in the high range clinically.
“Genetic factors and obesity may cause unhealthy cholesterol levels in children,” says Dr. Fleg.
A rare genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia is the most common inherited cardiovascular condition. It leads to very high cholesterol levels beginning at a young age.
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What Reduces Cholesterol Quickly
There is no quick fix for reducing cholesterol. But there are plenty of ways to reduce your cholesterol naturally. Eating a high fiber diet, reducing saturated fat, weight loss , exercise, and smoking cessation are just some of the things within your control. If lifestyle interventions are unsuccessful, medication is always an option.
Apoe And Cholesterol Levels
One of the strongest genetic factors to watch out for is apolipoprotein E .
APOE is the Alzheimers gene. It tells your body to make a protein involved in the metabolism and transport of fats in the body especially cholesterol. If you have the bad version of the gene it increases your risk of high cholesterol, Alzheimers disease and cardiovascular disease especially if you eat too much saturated fat and dont get enough healthy fats in your diet!
Find out more about ApoE4 here.
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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.
Cholesterol Levels Chart For Children
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US National Library of Medicine, here’s what cholesterol levels should look like for children under 19:
Some children are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol because of a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia . The most effective way to diagnose FH is to get your child proper genetic testing from a specialist between the ages of 2 and 10, says Mohamed Al-Kazaz, MD, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital.
A child is also more likely to have high cholesterol if they have obesity, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or an underactive thyroid, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.
Cholesterol Levels In Young Adults Predict Risk Of Future Heart Disease
Young people with even modestly elevated cholesterol levels are more likely to develop coronary artery calcium and atherosclerosis later in life, according to a study by UCSF researchers.
The findings indicate that cholesterol levels found in the majority of young adults in their 20s and 30s are associated with damage to coronary arteries, which can accumulate over time and persist into middle age.
Findings were published August 2, 2010 in the Annals of Internal Medicine and available online at .
The findings refute the common assumption that non-optimal cholesterol levels are insignificant during young adulthood and suggest a stronger emphasis on early lifestyle intervention, according to Mark J. Pletcher, MD, MPH, who is first author on the study.
We dont usually worry too much about heart disease risk until a person is in middle age because its rare to have a heart attack in young adulthood, said Pletcher, who is an associate professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and of Medicine at UCSF. However, our evidence shows that young adulthood is an important time because lasting damage already starts to accumulate at this age.
In order to prevent heart disease and stroke more effectively, we should be thinking about cholesterol at a younger age, he said.
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Whats The Relationship Between Gender And Sex
Gender and sex can be related for some.
The expectation that if youre assigned male at birth, youre a man, and that if youre assigned female at birth, youre a woman, lines up for people who are cisgender.
But for people who are trans and gender non-conforming, the sex theyre assigned at birth may not align with the gender they know themselves to be. They may identify with a different sex than what they were assigned at birth.
Ultimately, the concepts of gender and sex are socially constructed. This means that we as a society assign sex and gender to people based on socially agreed-upon characteristics. This doesnt mean that body parts and functions are made up it just means that the way we categorize and define each of these things could actually be different.
People often like to separate gender and sex by saying things like gender is in the brain and sex is in the pants. Although accepting someone as their correct gender is a good first step, beliefs like these can actually be harmful to trans people.
When trans people are understood to be the sex they were assigned at birth and not the sex they truly are it can have a significant impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health.
For example, this can make it difficult to obtain fundamental rights, such as healthcare, and even access to basic necessities, such as public bathrooms.
Gender identity is your own personal understanding of your gender and how you want the world to see you.
Cholesterol Levels In Men
Younger men tend to have higher total cholesterol numbers than women. This changes after women go through menopause, which tends to raise women’s cholesterol levels. In general, men and women have very similar target cholesterol levels. The one difference: men have a slightly lower HDL target of 40 mg/dl.
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Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discoveries to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including high blood cholesterol. Learn about current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.