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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How To Lower Cholesterol: Low
Low-carbohydrate diets may help improve HDL cholesterol levels. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study that found while both low-fat and low-carb dieters lost weight over the two-year study period, low-carb dieters also improved their HDL cholesterol levels. The problem with low-carb diets is that they may be difficult to adhere to. Consult your doctor about the best healthy eating plan to manage your cholesterol.
How Cholesterol Levels Are Measured
You may not feel any symptoms of high cholesterol until you develop more serious health problems. This is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels measured on a regular basis.
A blood test called a lipid or lipoprotein panel will show your cholesterol levels and help your healthcare provider decide if you need treatment.
The blood test measures:
- Total cholesterol:The total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including HDL and LDL
- High-density lipoprotein, or HDL: It is called “good” cholesterol and is capable of removing cholesterol from your body by moving it to the liver.
- Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL: It is called “bad” cholesterol and can cause plaque buildup.
- Non-HDL cholesterol: It is found by subtracting HDL from total cholesterol. It includes LDL and VLDL .
- Triglycerides: A type of fat that can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
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How And When To Have Your Cholesterol Checked
Getting your cholesterol levels checked is an important part of staying healthy. High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States.
Knowing your cholesterol status can help you stay in control of your health. Learn about cholesterol screening and why it is important.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to make hormones and digest fats. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, but you can also get cholesterol from eating certain foods, such as egg yolks and fatty meats. Having high blood cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood cholesterol doesnt have symptoms, which is why getting your cholesterol levels checked is so important.
Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
You should get your cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. If you have cardiovascular risk factors, talk with your health care team about getting tested more often.
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.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
If testing shows you have high cholesterol, you may want to ask your doctor these questions at your next visit.
1. What are the dangers of having high cholesterol? Can other problems develop?
2. What could have caused my cholesterol to be too high? Is it inherited?
3. Are there things I can do at home or in my life to reduce my cholesterol?
4. Is medicine necessary? Are there alternative treatments?
5. If medicine is needed, how does the medicine work?
6. How long can I take medicine? What are the side effects? Is long-term use harmful?
7. How can exercise help to lower my cholesterol?
8. Where can I learn more about how to live with high cholesterol?
9. What changes should I make to the way I eat?
10. How often do I need to get my cholesterol level checked?
What Age Should I Get Screened For High Blood Cholesterol
In the years from 2009 to 2016, about 1 in 5 adolescents had an unhealthy cholesterol reading.1 In the years from 2015 to 2018, nearly 93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older had high or borderline high cholesterol .1 But since high cholesterol doesnt have symptoms, many people dont know their levels are high.
Cholesterol should be checked starting early in lifeeven children and adolescents should have their cholesterol checked.
Cholesterol testing should be done
- Every 5 years for people age 20 or older who are at low risk for cardiovascular disease.2
- More frequently than every 5 years for people with cardiovascular disease risk factors.2
The 2018 ACC/AHA Guidelines recommend that cholesterol management be based on a persons lifetime cardiovascular risk.1
If your family has a history of early heart attacks or heart disease, or if a child has obesity or diabetes, doctors may recommend screening for high cholesterol more often.
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How Can A High Ldl Level Raise My Risk Of Coronary Artery Disease And Other Diseases
If you have a high LDL level, this means that you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. This extra LDL, along with other substances, forms plaque. The plaque builds up in your arteries this is a condition called atherosclerosis.
Coronary artery disease happens when the plaque buildup is in the arteries of your heart. It causes the arteries to become hardened and narrowed, which slows down or blocks the blood flow to your heart. Since your blood carries oxygen to your heart, this means that your heart may not be able to get enough oxygen. This can cause angina , or if the blood flow is completely blocked, a heart attack.
Lifestyle Changes To Lower Cholesterol
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can help you lower or control your cholesterol include:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. It recommends that you eat and drink only enough calories to stay at a healthy weight and avoid weight gain. It encourages you to choose a variety of nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. 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. This is especially important for people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that includes high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and being overweight with a large waist measurement .
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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.
Youve Got To Move It Move It
Regular physical activity can raise HDL and lower triglycerides. To improve cholesterol levels, adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.
Children aged 5 and older should get moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 1 hour per day, 3 days per week. Moderate to vigorous activities include jogging or things like playing baseball. Vigorous activities include running, tennis, and playing soccer.
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When Can I Eat Or Drink Again
As soon as your blood is taken, your fast is over. You might want to bring a snack and a drink with you so you can eat as soon as possible after the test.
American Academy for Clinical Chemistry: Basic Metabolic Panel,Comprehensive Metabolic Panel,GGT,Glucose Tests,Iron Tests,Lipid Profile,Renal Function Panel,Vitamin B12 & Folate.
British National Health Service: Can I Eat and Drink Before Having a Blood Test?
Crystal Moore, MD, PhD, FCAP, anatomical and clinical pathologist, Chesapeake, VA.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What Are Blood Tests?
Nemours Foundation: Blood Test: Comprehensive Metabolic Panel .
Providence Laboratory Services : Fasting Instructions.
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Medications To Lower High Cholesterol
The goal of cholesterol treatment is to help you prevent a heart attack or stroke. So the drugs your doctor prescribes also depend on your chances for heart disease.
The higher your risk, the more important it is to get your levels down. Your doctor will look at all of your risk factors and decide which medications will help you the most.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs include:
Cholesterol-lowering drugs work best when combined with a low-cholesterol diet and an exercise program.
Statins block the production of cholesterol in the liver. They lower LDL and triglycerides and can slightly raise HDL. These drugs are the first treatment for most people with high cholesterol. If you already have heart disease, statins reduce the chances of heart attacks. Side effects can include diabetes, liver damage, and, in a few people, muscle tenderness or weakness. If your doctor prescribes statins, you should ask them the percentage by which you should lower your cholesterol. Generally, it will be between 30% and 50%. Commonly used statins include:
Bile acid sequestrants
These drugs work inside the intestine, where they bind to bile and prevent your circulatory system from reabsorbing it. Bile is made largely from cholesterol, so these drugs work by reducing the body’s supply of cholesterol. That then lowers both total and LDL cholesterol. The most common side effects are constipation, gas, and upset stomach. Commonly used bile acid sequestrants include:
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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.
Tingles In Your Hands And Feet
A sort of tingling sensation in your hands and your feet definitely isnt uncommon if youre dealing with too high cholesterol levels. Because of blocked blood vessels, the peripheral nerves in your feet and hands are also affected as theyre not getting enough oxygen and blood flow. This usually doesnt result in pain, but can induce a rather noticeable tingling sensation instead.
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Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- transient ischaemic attack often known as a mini stroke
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your bloods cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity .
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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Drug Therapies To Treat High Cholesterol
When lifestyle changes alone cannot bring down high cholesterol, doctors may recommend medications. The reports that the following drugs and supplements can help:
- Statins: These drugs keep the liver from producing cholesterol.
- Bile acid sequestrants: These drugs reduce the amount of fat that the body absorbs from food.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: These drugs lower levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood and reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.
- Some vitamins and supplements: These, such as niacin, stop the liver from removing HDL and lower levels of triglycerides.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These raise HDL levels and lower triglyceride levels.
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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Cut Back On Animal Fats
Forgo fatty, processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni and hot dogs, as well as fatty red meats like ribs and prime cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb. Also, skip skin-on chicken or turkey. Avoid full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and butter. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol, which are both associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup.
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At What Cholesterol Level Is Medication Required
There is so much talk about the dangers of high cholesterol, you may start to think that all cholesterol is bad. In truth, your body needs cholesterol. This waxy fat, or lipid, is necessary for digestion, building cells, making certain hormones, and for ensuring normal organ function. However, as it is with many things that are good for you in the right amount, too much of it can cause serious health problems.
Your liver produces all of the cholesterol your body needs. Your body also absorbs cholesterol directly from certain foods you eat. When you intake some cholesterol from your diet, your body is normally able to adjust the amount produced by your liver to avoid having too much. Eating too many high-cholesterol foods, and having conditions that cause your liver to produce too much can lead to high blood cholesterol levels sometimes known as lipid disorder, hyperlipidemia, or hypercholesterolemia.
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How Can I Keep Healthy Blood Cholesterol Levels
Talk to your doctor about your numbers. Your risk of disease depends on other factors, too, in combination with high cholesterol. To keep your cholesterol managed, you should do the following:
- Choose healthy foods. Limit foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, sugar, and sodium . Choose foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and veggies, and in unsaturated fats, such as avocados and nuts. Learn more about healthy eating.
- Stay physically active. You should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as biking or brisk walking, every week.6Learn more about physical activity.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages the blood vessels and greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you smoke, learn how to quit.
- Take medicine if necessary. A healthy diet and physical activity can help many people reach healthy cholesterol levels, but some people may need medicines to lower their cholesterol. Always take your medicine as prescribed.
Learn more about ways to prevent high cholesterol.