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What Is A High Total Cholesterol Level

Normal Cholesterol With High Triglycerides What Is That

Cholesterol and Targets for Total Cholesterol, LDL and HDL

When measuring total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein , high-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides are used in the measurement.

For adults, standard cholesterol levels are:

  • Less than 200 mg/dL is desirable
  • Between 200 – 239 mg/dL is considered borderline
  • Over 240 mg/dL is considered high

When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels

In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.

Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.

References

Southern Cross Medical Library

The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.

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Why Is A Cholesterol Test Useful

A cholesterol test serves as a tool to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

The test enables a doctor to measure and analyze the levels of fats in the blood. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, the doctor may recommend treatment to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

What Causes High Cholesterol

High Cholesterol

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Cholesterol is both good and bad. At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body. However, if concentrations in the blood get too high, it becomes a silent danger that puts people at risk of heart attack.

Cholesterol is present in every cell of the body and has important natural functions when it comes to digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. The body produces it, but people also consume it in food. It is waxy and fat-like in appearance.

There are two types of cholesterol:

  • low-density lipoproteins , or bad cholesterol
  • high-density lipoproteins , or good cholesterol

In this article, we will explain the role of cholesterol. We will also discuss the causes of high cholesterol, and its symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

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What Is A Healthy Cholesterol Level

This table is a general guide for ideal cholesterol and triglyceride levels for healthy adults in the UK. If you have a condition such as heart disease or diabetes, your target levels may be lower your doctor will be able to tell you your individual targets.

Above 6 is considered high risk – the lower this figure is the betterAbove 6 is considered high risk – the lower this figure is the better

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.

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How To Lower Your Cholesterol

If youve been told that you have high cholesterol or you just want to prevent it what can you do?

There are several ways to manage it, including:

Medication: Depending on your overall cardiovascular disease risk, you might be treated with a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as a statin. The decision to use a statin is based on a womans overall risk for heart attack and stroke including all these factors and the LDL cholesterol value.

If you already have vascular disease or evidence of atherosclerosis, or if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, a statin for prevention is strongly recommended because this treats the plaque in the arteries, and lowers LDL cholesterol, Michos says.

Diet and lifestyle:Diet and lifestyle are very important to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Even for women who are recommended to take cholesterol-lowering medications, a healthy lifestyle helps these drugs work better, says Michos.

Heres how to maintain a lifestyle that promotes healthy cholesterol levels:

Add these to your shopping list:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna
  • Nuts, including walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts
  • Olive oil to drizzle lightly over your salads and vegetables

While nobody wants to have high cholesterol, there are plenty of ways to keep it in check. With regular checkups and attention to what you eat, its possible to manage your cholesterol and blood fats to keep your heart healthy, says Michos.

What Are Cholesterol Levels

Recommended 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.

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Is My Cholesterol Level Too High

Levels of blood cholesterol are measured in millimols/litre, against which

the risks of heart disease are calculated.

As a rule of thumb, less than 5.2

is low, 5.2-6.5 is average, 6.5-7.8 is moderately high and greater than 7.8

is very high.

Getting your cholesterol level to 5.2 or below is the ideal,

but it is very much dependent on other risk factors. For example, a

cholesterol level of 6.4 might be acceptable in a fit person with no other

risk factors, but might be wrongly high for someone who has angina, or whose

family has a history of early heart attacks.

As long as you continue to eat a low fat diet, I really wouldnât worry about

your cholesterol level at its current level of 5.5 â most of the population

has a similar level or higher. However a test in a year or so wouldnât harm,

as you can seek medical advice early if you notice an upwards trend.

As well as eating a low fat diet you can also help to lower cholesterol by

not smoking (in fact smoking is strongly predictive of heart disease in its

own right). Increasing intake of soluble fibre from foods such as oats,

baked beans, grapefruits and apples will also help.

Moderate alcohol consumption â equivalent to one or two glasses of wine a

day â can increase levels of beneficial high density lipoprotein which

scavenge and remove cholesterol from the body.

Types Of Cholesterol And How They Work In Your Body

Cholesterol is carried through the circulatory system on two lipoproteins: high-density lipoproteins , often referred to as good cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins , also called bad cholesterol.

HDL has been labeled good cholesterol because it removes LDL cholesterol from the arteries and takes it to the liver, where it can be broken down and removed from the body, according to the AHA.

LDL is termed bad cholesterol because when there is too much of it circulating in the blood , it can eventually build up in the form of plaque on the walls of your arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. Over time, this narrows the arteries and raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease, notes the AHA.

A high level of triglycerides the most common type of fat in your body can also lead to fatty buildups in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, if combined with high LDL or low HDL cholesterol levels, per the AHA.

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What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol

Lifestyle factors include:

  • an unhealthy diet– eating too much saturated fat is thought to increase levels of LDL or bad cholesterol
  • lack of exercise – this can also increase your levels of LDL
  • obesity – being overweight often means you also have higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and a lower level of the good HDL.
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • smoking – if you smoke, a chemical in cigarettes called acrolein stops the good HDL from moving fatty deposits to your liver

Underlying conditions

  • kidney disease
  • transient ischaemic attack – or a mini stroke
  • peripheral arterial disease

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Home Remedies To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

healthy: healthy total cholesterol levels by age

In some cases, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels without taking medications. For example, it may be enough to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking tobacco products.

Some people also claim that certain herbal and nutritional supplements may help lower cholesterol levels. For instance, claims have been made about:

However, the level of evidence supporting these claims varies. Also, the Food and Drug Administration hasnt approved any of these products for treating high cholesterol. More research is needed to learn if they can help treat this condition.

Always talk with your doctor before taking any herbal or nutritional supplements. In some cases, they might interact with other medications youre taking.

You cant control the genetic risk factors for high cholesterol. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.

To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:

  • Eat a nutritious diet thats low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fiber.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • E.xercise regularly.
  • Avoid smoking.

Follow your doctors recommendations for routine cholesterol screening. If youre at risk of high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, they will likely encourage you to get your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis.

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Cholesterol Levels For Adults

  • Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
  • LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be of more concern for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors. A reading of 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high and 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. A reading of 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
  • HDL levels should be kept higher. A reading of less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. A reading from 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL is considered borderline low. The optimal reading for HDL levels is of 60 mg/dL or higher.

What Is Considered High Cholesterol

Doctors currently focus on your low-density lipid cholesterol level. This is the bad type of cholesterol. Severely high LDL-C is 190 mg/dL or higher.

High cholesterol is the level at which people have a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease than people with healthy cholesterol levels. This includes a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Experts agree that a healthy LDL-C level for most people is less than 100 mg/dL. At this level, studies show people have a low rate of heart and blood vessel disease. Some people should aim even lower for an LDL-C level less than 70 mg/dL. These are people who already have heart or blood vessel disease or a very high risk for it.

Doctors look at your risk and healthy LDL-C goal to decide if you need to lower your cholesterol. This means that what is considered high cholesterol for you depends on all these factors. In the end, experts agree that when it comes to bad cholesterol, lower is better.

Just remember, with bad cholesterol lower is better!

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Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol

You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.

So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.

Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:

  • LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
  • Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
  • HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.

And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.

Who Should Get One And How Often

What is a Safe or Ideal Blood Cholesterol Level?

Everyone should get regular cholesterol checks, although the optimal frequency depends on age and certain health risk factors.

The American Heart Association recommends cholesterol testing for most adults every 46 years , starting at the age of 20 years. This testing will continue as long as they have a low risk of stroke or heart attack. After the age of 40 years, a doctor will calculate a persons risk and may suggest more frequent testing.

Some people have an increased risk of developing high cholesterol and may need additional testing. These individuals include:

  • people with a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol
  • anyone who had high cholesterol levels in a previous test
  • people with type 2 diabetes

lower LDL cholesterol levels than males on average, but their levels may increase after menopause.

Children should also undergo cholesterol tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing a childs cholesterol levels once at age 911 years and again between the ages of 17 and 21 years.

Cholesterol testing generally does not take place during puberty because hormones can alter the results of the test.

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What Does The Term Total Cholesterol Mean

The term total cholesterol refers to the total amount of the different kinds of cholesterol in your blood. One kind of cholesterol is the LDL cholesterol. Another kind is the HDL cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. LDL is the bad cholesterol. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL is the good cholesterol.

Cholesterol Chart For Adults

Your doctor may recommend a plan of treatment for high cholesterol that includes lifestyle modifications and potentially medication. This will vary based on factors like other medications you may be taking, your age, sex, and general health.

Here are some medications more commonly prescribed for high cholesterol:

  • Statins.Statins lower the LDL cholesterol levels by slowing the production of cholesterol by the liver.
  • Bile acid sequestrants.Bile acid sequestrants are substances used in digestion. These resins can reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by binding to bile acids and removing them, forcing the body to break down LDL cholesterol to create bile acids instead.
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors.Cholesterol absorption inhibitors can block the absorption of cholesterol from the diet, sometimes in conjunction with statins.
  • Bempedoic acid.Bempedoic acid helps to stop an enzyme in the liver, ATP citrate lyase, from making cholesterol. This drug is often combined with statins for increased benefit for those with familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited condition that can cause early heart disease.
  • PCSK9 inhibitors. Also used frequently with familial hypercholesterolemia, PCSK9 inhibitors, which are injected drugs, help the liver absorb and remove more LDL cholesterol from the blood.

Medications can also be used to treat contributing factors to cholesterol like triglycerides. These may be used in addition to some of the medications above.

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Ratio And Risk For Women

Because women often have higher levels of good cholesterol, their cholesterol ratio risk categories differ. According to the same study, a 4.4 ratio indicates average risk for heart disease in women. Heart disease risk for women doubles if their ratio is 7, while a ratio of 3.3 signifies roughly half the average risk.

What Do Your Cholesterol Results Mean

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When you have a cholesterol test, it is really important that your healthcare professional explains the results to you to prevent unnecessary worry and confusion.

Its not just your total cholesterol thats important and your results will include different types of cholesterol. If you are only given your total cholesterol, ask for a break-down of the other numbers. Its possible to have a healthy total cholesterol number but an unhealthy balance of the different types of cholesterol.

As a minimum, you should be given your total cholesterol and HDL numbers, then you can work out your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol .

You might also have your triglycerides tested, these are another type of blood fat which are linked to heart disease.

Ask for a print out of your results if you are not able to speak to your GP, nurse or pharmacist.

Your results should include:

  • Total cholesterol

This is sometimes written as ‘serum cholesterol’ or ‘TC’ and refers to your overall level of cholesterol.

  • Non-HDL cholesterol

Your non-HDL cholesterol is your total cholesterol minus your HDL cholesterol. Its all the ‘bad’ cholesterol added together, including your LDL cholesterol. Ideally it should be as low as possible.

  • HDL cholesterol
  • TC:HDL ratio

You might be given a TC:HDL ratio, which is the ratio of HDL compared to the total cholesterol. If not, you can work it out from your HDL and total cholesterol numbers. This should be as low as possible. Above 6 is considered high.

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