Lipid Panel Tests To Screen For High Blood Cholesterol
A lipid panel usually measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Your test results may also show the level of non-HDL cholesterol, which includes all fats that raise your risk of heart and blood vessels diseases. It may also include a test for triglycerides.
Ask your doctor if you need to fast before a lipid panel. This means you do not eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before your visit. Ask your doctor about taking your medicines before the test.
How often you get a lipid panel done depends on your age, risk factors, and family history of high blood cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. Here is a general guide:
- Age 19 or younger. Screening begins at ages 9 to 11 and should be repeated every 5 years. Screening may be performed as early as age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke.
- Age 20 to 65. Younger adults should be screened every 5 years. Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should be screened every 1 to 2 years.
- Older than 65. Older adults should be screened every year.
How Does Cholesterol Get Distributed In The Body
Cholesterol is carried through your bloodstream by carriers made of fat and proteins called lipoproteins.
There are two types of lipoproteins:
What To Eat: Foods That Lower Cholesterol
There is great evidence to support functional foods that help lower cholesterol, Featherstun says. Add these choices to your diet:
Plant stanols and sterols These are naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell walls, Featherstun says. They interfere with cholesterol absorption in the small intestine and can help lower LDL cholesterol. A study published in October 2012 in Lipids in Health and Disease found that eating 9 to 10 grams of stanols per day can help lower LDL cholesterol by more than 17 and as much as 22 percent. You can get plant stanols and sterols in margarine-like spreads such as Benecol and Smart Balance, available in the dairy section of most grocery stores.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats These fats can help decrease LDL cholesterol, Featherstun says. To get them, eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, or king mackerel, at least twice a week. Other good sources of unsaturated fats include chia seeds, avocados, almonds, walnuts, and olive oil.
Soy foods Soy proteins contain isoflavones and phytoestrogens, which block both cholesterol absorption and new cholesterol production, Featherstun says. Good sources of soy protein include tofu, soy milk, and edamame. Try to replace one daily animal protein item with a soy protein alternative, Featherstun suggests.
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Learn About Other Precautions To Help You Stay Safe While Taking Statins
Statins are the most common medicine used to treat high blood cholesterol. Learn some tips to stay safe if your doctor gives you statins.
- Keep taking your statin medicine as prescribed. If you started taking a statin after you recently had a heart attack, a stroke, or another complication, you should not stop taking this medicine on your own, because that can increase your risk for a repeat event or even death. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns about your medication or if you would like to stop or change to a different treatment.
- Ask your doctor what medicines, nutritional supplements, or foods you should avoid. Some of these can interact with statins to cause serious side effects or make them less effective. For example, grapefruit affects how your liver breaks down some statins.
- Tell your doctor about any symptoms or side effects. Sometimes, people report muscle problems while taking statins. If you start having muscle pain, your doctor may order a blood test to look for muscle damage. The pain may go away if you switch to a different statin. Muscle damage with statins is rare, and your muscles may heal when you switch to a different medicine.
- If you are a woman who is planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your options. You should stop taking statins about three months before getting pregnant. Also, you should not take statins if you are breastfeeding.
You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
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What Are The Kinds Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol in the blood doesn’t move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins.
The two main types of cholesterol are:
LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol.” This type of cholesterol can combine with proteins and other substances in the blood to make plaque. Cholesterol plaques can buildup and cause blood vessels to become stiffer, narrower, or blocked.
HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” doesn’t clog arteries. HDL cholesterol removes cholesterol from the blood vessels and carries it back to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body.
Here’s an easy way to remember which is which: LDL starts with “L” for “lousy.” HDL starts with “H” for “healthy.”
High levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol increase a person’s risk of having heart disease.
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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Effects Of High Cholesterol Levels
The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol and dietary fat. When we eat animal fats, the liver transports the fat, together with cholesterol in the form of lipoproteins, into our bloodstream.
Too much cholesterol circulating within LDL in our bloodstream leads to fatty deposits developing in the arteries. This causes the vessels to narrow and they can eventually become blocked. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Where Is Cholesterol Made
Some of our cholesterol comes from the food we eat, but most is made in the liver in a complex 37-step process.
The lipoproteins are then released into the blood and carried around the body to wherever they’re needed.
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Why Is Cholesterol Essential
Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. For example, cholesterol is used to build cell walls and produce some hormones.
About three quarters of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver the rest comes from the food you eat.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoproteins. The main types of lipoproteins are high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein .
Triglycerides A Different Type Of Lipid
Triglycerides are another type of lipid. Theyre different from cholesterol. While your body uses cholesterol to build cells and certain hormones, it uses triglycerides as a source of energy.
When you eat more calories than your body can use right away, it converts those calories into triglycerides. It stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through your bloodstream.
If you regularly eat more calories than your body can use, your triglyceride levels can get high. This may raise your risk of several health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Your doctor can use a simple blood test to measure your triglyceride level, as well as your cholesterol levels. Learn how to get your triglyceride level tested.
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Eating For Lower Cholesterol
Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health, whether your cholesterol has crept up over the years or you have a genetic condition. It will improve your health in other ways too, helping to lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.
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Checking Your Blood Cholesterol Level
A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help identify your risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test.
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How Can I Prevent High Cholesterol
Here are a few things you can do to keep your cholesterol under control:
- Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit drinks and foods that have a lot of fat or sugar, like sugary drinks, treats, and fried foods.
- Get plenty of exercise. Experts recommend at least 60 minutes every day!
Who Is Prone To High Cholesterol Levels
Some people are more prone to high cholesterol levels than others. They include:
- Women who have crossed their menopausal age. Their LDL levels tend to increase after menopause. This increases their risk of heart disease.
- Men above 45 years of age and women over 50 years of age.
- People who have a family history of heart disease.
- People suffering from obesity are at a high risk of suffering from high levels of cholesterol and subsequently, heart diseases.
- People leading sedentary lifestyles.
- People who smoke heavily.
- Women who have a waist circumference of more than 35 inches and men whose waist circumference is more than 45 inches.
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Why Do We Need Cholesterol
Cholesterol plays a vital role in how your body works. There is cholesterol in every cell in your body, and it’s especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
- Its part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your bodys cells
- Its used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
- Its used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
If the 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. If you take 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
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How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day|
|69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include
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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Cholesterol Content Of Foods
If you have risk factors for heart disease, you should not consume more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day.
If you do not have risk factors for heart disease, you should limit your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams a day.
Use the following tables to check the cholesterol and fat content of the foods you eat. This will help you keep track of your daily cholesterol intake.
Note: Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Fruits, vegetables, grains and all other plant foods do not have any cholesterol at all.
Cheddar Cheese1 oz30
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Triglycerides In Your Blood
In addition to cholesterol, your blood also contains a type of fat called triglycerides, which are stored in your bodys fat deposits. Hormones release triglycerides to make energy between meals.
When you eat, your body converts any extra energy it doesnt need right away into triglycerides.
Like cholesterol, your body needs triglycerides to work properly. However, there is evidence to suggest that some people with high triglycerides are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you regularly eat more energy than you need, you may have high triglycerides .
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Cholesterol And Healthy Eating
What we eat has an impact on our cholesterol levels and can help reduce our risk of disease. Try to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups. Not only does this help to maintain a healthy and interesting diet, but it provides essential nutrients to the body.
The Heart Foundation recommends:
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.
- A variety of healthy protein sources , legumes , nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure it is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.
- Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.
- Healthy fat choices nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
- Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.
Also, be mindful on how much you are eating and whether you are filling up on unhealthy foods. Portion sizes have increased over time and many of us are eating more than we need which can lead to obesity and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ideally, a healthy plate would include servings of ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrates and ½ vegetables.
Serving size can vary depending on age, gender and specific nutrition needs.