What Does A Cholesterol Check Involve
A cholesterol test involves a a simple blood test, this can be done in two ways: ;
You can eat and drink normally before your test unless your doctor asks you not to. If you have a sample taken with a needle and syringe, you might be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours beforehand, usually overnight.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol doesnt cause any symptoms by itself. But if you have it, it can lead to serious problems affecting your heart and circulation, such as heart attack and stroke. You may start to develop symptoms of heart disease such as angina . Or you may have pain in your calves on exercise which goes away when resting.
Contact your GP if you have symptoms youre concerned about, and contact them as soon as possible if you have angina chest pain.
What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a type of blood fat . We all need some cholesterol in our blood to stay healthy, but too much can lead to serious health problems in the future, including heart attacks and strokes.
Anyone can have high cholesterol; even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise. Thats because high cholesterol can be caused by different things. It can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, but it can be genetic too.
High cholesterol is very common, but most people don’t know they have it because it doesn’t usually have any symptoms. That’s why everyone should have a cholesterol check.
Another type of blood fat called triglycerides can also become raised and lead to health problems, you can have these checked too.;
If your cholesterol is raised, there are treatments available if you need them. But it’s usually possible to lower cholesterol naturally with healthy lifestyle changes.
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Cholesterol Targets For People With Diabetes
NICE no longer specifies target cholesterol levels for people with diabetes. Your doctors will use a calculator, called QRISK2, to work out your risk of heart disease using a number of factors such as age, BMI, gender, blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels and which type of diabetes you have.
If you want a general guide of how healthy your cholesterol levels are, find out your total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio
To find this, take your total cholesterol figure and divide it by your HDL figure. A result of less than four is healthy.
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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Can I Test My Own Cholesterol At Home
Its better to have your cholesterol tested by a professional because taking blood and measuring cholesterol levels is a skilled job and your results will be affected by the way you do the test. Going to a health professional means you will get an accurate reading.
We dont recommend home sampling, but if you do decide to test your cholesterol at home, follow these simple steps to take your sample safely and get a more accurate result.;;
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.
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Cholesterol And Heart Disease
When too much cholesterol is present, plaque may form in the bodys arteries narrowing the space for blood to flow to the heart. Over time, this build up causes atherosclerosis which can lead to heart disease.When not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the heart chest pain called angina can result. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by total blockage of a coronary artery, the result is a heart attack. This is usually due to a sudden closure from a blood clot forming on top of a previous narrowing.
Getting Your Cholesterol Level Checked
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you have been diagnosed with a heart condition or have had a stroke, have a family history of early cardiovascular disease or a cholesterol-related condition, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have diabetes.
Cholesterol plays a vital role, but too much bad cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.
You should have a full blood test every five years from when you are 20 years old and then at least every one or two years after 45 years, depending on your risk factors. If you are already known to have high cholesterol, you should be re-tested annually if you are making lifestyle changes to reduce your cholesterol.
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What Can Happen If Your Arteries Become Clogged Up
If your arteries become clogged up with blood fats, your blood can’t flow around your body easily. This can lead to a number of diseases of the heart and blood vessels.;
These diseases are known together as cardiovascular disease cardio refers to the heart, and vascular refers to the blood vessels.
Coronary heart disease
This is where the arteries have become clogged up and stiff with atherosclerosis. The blood cant flow around the body and back to the heart easily, and blood clots can form. This can lead to chest pain, heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.
This is a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest which can spread to the left arm, neck, jaw or back. It happens when the arteries leading to the heart have become narrowed and the heart doesnt get enough oxygen. The pain can be brought on by exercise or activity, as the heart needs more oxygen during physical activity.
A heart attack
This is a medical emergency. It happens when an artery leading to the heart becomes completely blocked, often by a blood clot, cutting off the blood supply. Part of the heart muscle quickly dies, but if its treated very early the blockage can be removed.If you think you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 999 straight away. The signs of a heart attack include:
- a crushing pain in the chest
- feeling weak or faint
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Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.
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Do You Need To Lower Your Cholesterol And Triglycerides
If you have high cholesterol, high triglycerides or an unhealthy balance of blood fats, your doctor will probably recommend bringing these levels down with lifestyle changes;and sometimes;treatments.;
Your doctor should look at your results in relation to;any other risk factors;for heart disease you;may have such as high blood pressure, being overweight or smoking, as well as other health conditions such as diabetes.
Another Type Of Fat Found In The Blood Mainly From The Food We Eat
Whats healthy? Less than 1.7 mmol/L ideally on a fasting sample, or less than 2.3 mmol/L on a non-fasting sample.
What should I do? Very high triglyceride levels can cause a painful condition called pancreatitis. People can have raised levels for many reasons, but the most common reasons are lifestyle-related:
- Being apple-shaped .
- Developing or having type 2 diabetes.
Excessive alcohol consumption.
You can keep your triglyceride levels low by losing weight, being more active and eating sensibly, especially by cutting back on alcohol, sugary foods and saturated fats, and eating more fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains.
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Causes Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is often caused by a number of factors, which all act to increase your cholesterol level. As well as your genetic makeup, these may include:
- having a diet high in saturated fat. See our FAQ on fats below for more information
- not doing much exercise
- being overweight or obese
- drinking too much alcohol
Sometimes, high cholesterol can be caused by a condition that runs in your family called familial hypercholesterolaemia. This means you may have a very high cholesterol level, even if you have a healthy lifestyle.
Other conditions, such as poorly controlled diabetes, certain kidney and liver diseases and an underactive thyroid may also cause high cholesterol. Some medicines can also raise your cholesterol, such as oral contraceptives, steroids and thiazide diuretics .
What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol moves throughout the body carried by lipoproteins in the blood. These lipoproteins include:
- Low-density lipoprotein is one of the two main lipoproteins. LDL is often called the bad cholesterol.
- High-density lipoprotein is the other main lipoprotein. HDL is often called the good cholesterol.
- Very-low-density lipoproteins are particles in the blood that carry triglycerides.
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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.
Who Should Have A Cholesterol Test
Anyone can have their blood cholesterol level tested, but its particularly important for people that are over 40 years old, have high blood pressure, are overweight, or have a family history of coronary heart disease.
Adults aged between 4074 years, living in England are eligible for a free NHS Health Check which includes a blood cholesterol check. If you have a history of heart disease in the family or youre concerned you have high cholesterol, speak with your doctor who will be able to offer some advice.
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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.
Why High Cholesterol Matters
High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the U.S. High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and restricting blood flow. If some of this plaque breaks off and gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can block the artery and cut off blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in heart attack or stroke.
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Cholesterol Converter And Triglyceride Converter
Cholesterol ConverterCholesterol values in the United States are expressed in mg / dL ; and in Canada, the UK and Australia in mmol / L
To use the Cholesterol Converter, enter a value into the appropriate field and click on the Convert button to see the cholesterol level expressed in the other standard.
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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How Often Should I Get My Cholesterol Levels Checked
The frequency of getting your cholesterol levels tested depends on your age, presence of risk factors, and family history like a history of heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
The following provides general recommendations for various age groups.
People who are 19 years of age or younger should:
- Get the first test done between ages 9 to 11 years
- Repeat the test every 5 years
- For children, who have a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke, the testing may start at 2 years of age
People who are age 20 years or older:
- Those between the age of 20 to 44 years should get tested every 5 years
- Women in the age group 45 to 54 years should get tested every 5 years
- Men in the age group 45 to 65 years should get their cholesterol levels checked every 1-2 years
- Women in the age group 55 to 65 years should get tested every 1-2 years
What Factors Affect Cholesterol Levels
A variety of factors can affect cholesterol levels. They include:
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat increase cholesterol levels. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.
- Weight. In addition to being a risk factor for heart disease, being overweight can also increase cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as increase HDL cholesterol.
- Exercise. Regular exercise can lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. You should try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days.
- Age and Gender. As we get older, cholesterol levels rise. Before menopause, women tend to have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, however, womens LDL levels tend to rise.
- Diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes increases cholesterol levels. With improvements in control, cholesterol levels can fall.
- Heredity. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol the body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
- Other causes. Certain medications and medical conditions can cause high cholesterol.
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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.