How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Level
The first step in reducing your cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. It’s important to keep your diet low in fatty food.
You can swap food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help prevent high cholesterol returning.
If these measures don’t reduce your cholesterol and you continue to have a high risk of developing heart disease, your GP may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as statins.
Your GP will take into account the risk of any side effects from statins. The benefit of lowering your cholesterol must outweigh any risks.
Read more about how high cholesterol is treated
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.
Ldl Cholesterol: ‘bad’ Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is the type that tends to deposit on the walls of the arteries. White blood cells combine with the LDL cholesterol, forming artery-narrowing plaque, which restricts blood flow. The optimal level of LDL cholesterol for most people is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you have heart disease, you may need to strive for LDL levels of 70 mg/dL or lower.
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Why Is Cholesterol Important To Our Bodies
Every cell in the body needs cholesterol, which helps the cell membranes form the layers. These layers protect the contents of the cell by acting as the gatekeeper to what things can enter or leave the cell. It is made by the liver and is also used by the liver to make bile, which helps you digest foods. Cholesterol is also needed to make certain hormones and to produce vitamin D. Your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet your bodys needs for these important functions.
What Are The Different Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol does not travel freely through the bloodstream. Instead, it is attached or carried by lipoproteins in the blood. There are three types of lipoproteins that are categorized based upon how much protein there is in relation to the amount of cholesterol.
Low-density lipoproteins contain a higher ratio of cholesterol to protein and are thought of as the bad cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL lipoprotein increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease, by helping form cholesterol plaque along the inside of artery walls. Over time, as plaque buildup increases, the artery narrows , and blood flow decreases. If the plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot to form that prevents any blood flow. This clot is the cause of a heart attack or myocardial infarction if the clot occurs in one of the coronary arteries in the heart.
High-density lipoproteins are made up of a higher level of protein and a lower level of cholesterol. These tend to be thought of as good cholesterol. The higher the HDL to LDL ratio, the better it is for the individual because such ratios can potentially be protective against heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
Very low-density lipoproteins contain even less protein than LDL. VLDL like LDL has been associated with plaque deposits.
Triglycerides may increase cholesterol-containing plaques if levels of LDL are high and HDL is low.
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Cholesterol: Good Vs Evil
There are two very distinct types of cholesterol
- The bad kind: LDL
- The good kind: HDL 3
LDL cholesterol is considered bad because it produces something called plaque which can clog your arteries. When arteries become clogged, they narrow and less blood is able to get to the heart. In the worst case, they completely block blood from reaching your heart, or they cause a blood clot. Either way, both can cause a heart attack.
HDL cholesterol is considered good because it doesnt clog your arteries. In fact, it cleans up the mess that LDL cholesterol makes by carrying LDL back to your liver to be processed and evicted.
There is also a third factor that needs to be addressed triglycerides.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in your body. Their job is to store energy from your diet. But high triglyceride levels when combined with bad LDL cholesterol is linked to fatty buildups in the walls of the arteries. This further increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
If Cholesterol Is Necessary Why Do We Have To Worry About How Much We Have
Having enough cholesterol to meet your needs is important. Having too much cholesterol can cause problems. If your cholesterol levels are high, the condition is called hypercholesterolemia. If your cholesterol levels are low, the condition is called hypocholesterolemia. It is not common to have cholesterol levels that are too low, but it can happen.
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Understanding Your Cholesterol Score
Your total cholesterol score is composed of low-density lipoprotein , high-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides.
Total CholesterolFirst, lets look at your total cholesterol. Jimmy Moore, author of Cholesterol Clarity, has a great answer to the question What does total cholesterol mean? He clarifies that despite the often confusing equation, total cholesterol is not the factor you should be concerned with. Knowing the total cholesterol is like asking how a baseball game went and having someone respond with only the total number of points that were scored. Obviously, you need a breakdown of how many points were scored by each team to really understand how the game went.
In this example, the two teams would be comparable to HDL and LDL. You need to understand how much comes from each source to gain a real understanding of what is going on in terms of your cholesterol health.
Low-density lipoprotein LDL is the type of cholesterol you DO NOT want. LDL can build up in the walls of your arteries, resulting in plaque. Similar to how you dont want plaque to build-up on your teeth, this same rule applies when it comes to plaque in your arteries.
Quick Tip: Remember the L in LDL as low. You want to keep this kind of cholesterol low.
LDL Guidelines in the U.S.
Less than 70mg/dL is best for those with a very high risk for heart disease.
Less than 100 mg/dL is best for those with heart disease.
100 129 mg/dL is near ideal.
130 159 mg/dL is borderline high.
Treating High Cholesterol In The Elderly
- Quit smoking: Higher cholesterol is one of the many negative effects of smoking. Nobody is ever too old to quit.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Leafy greens like cabbage are particularly good at lowering high cholesterol.
- Eat the right kind of fat: Avoiding red meat, high-fat dairy products and processed foods in favor of healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados can help seniors avoid saturated fat and trans fats, two of the biggest contributors to high cholesterol.
- Get more omega-3 fatty acids: This essential nutrient, found in salmon, tuna and flaxseed, can help raise good cholesterol. Its also available as a supplement.
- Exercise: Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a day like walking can help seniors lower their cholesterol.
- Take medication: Millions of Americans use statins to lower their LDL cholesterol. These drugs remove bad cholesterol from the blood efficiently, and with few side effects.
Nobody is ever too old to break a bad habit or start a good one. Making lifestyle changes and taking medication that treats high cholesterol can help seniors avoid serious health problems and continue to enjoy the golden years.
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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.
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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Find Out Your Heart Age With The Heart Age Tool
Once you have your cholesterol results you can work out your risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years using the NHS Heart Age Tool. You will get a more accurate result if you know your blood pressure numbers too. The heart age tool is designed for people aged 25 to 84.
Adults age 40-74 are also invited for NHS Health Checks which includes other simple tests to look at your heart health.
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.
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Plant Sterols Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods including sunflower and canola seeds, vegetable oils and in nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Some margarine and milks have concentrated plant sterols added to them. Margarines enriched with plant sterolslower LDL cholesterol in most people if the correct amount is eaten .
Lifestyle Tips To Cut Cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Suggestions include:
- Cease alcohol consumption or reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day. Avoid binge drinking. This may help lower your triglyceride levels.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into artery cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly . Exercise increases HDL levels while reducing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to raised blood triglyceride and LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis , heart attacks and strokes.
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How Do You Prepare For A Cholesterol Test
In most cases, youll need to fast for nine to 12 hours before the test. Make sure you tell the person drawing your blood how long it has been since you ate or drank anything that wasnt water.
There are some cases when a cholesterol test is done without fasting. This is true for tests done at health screenings and may be true for people younger than 20 or for people who are unable to fast.
Some medical societies believe that fasting is not necessary to get a true picture of lipid levels in the blood, while other associations stand by the belief that fasting gives a better idea of a persons heart disease risk. You should be clear on whether or not you need to fast, and for how long, before you go for the blood test.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people dont discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.
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What Types Of Cholesterol Are There
There are two different types of cholesterol including:
- “Bad Cholesterol” which carry cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol is bad because it builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow which can increase the risk of a heart attack.
- “Good Cholesterol” which picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver. Having high HDL is linked to lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Why Do I Need A Cholesterol Test
You will get a free NHS cholesterol test if you have a number of risk factors for high cholesterol including if youre over 40, have coronary heart disease or diabetes, have had a stroke or mini stroke, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease or a cholesterol-related condition.
Understanding your cholesterol levels
We hear a lot about the dangers of high cholesterol, but unless you have a blood test, you have …
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Can High Cholesterol Be Prevented Or Avoided
Making healthy food choices and exercising are two ways to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol.
Eat fewer foods with saturated fats . Choose healthier fats. This includes lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy items. Avoid foods that contain trans fat . Look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some egg brands contain omega-3.
Exercise can be simple. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike to work. You could even participate in a team sport. Aim to get 30 minutes of activity every day.
Normal Cholesterol Levels By Age
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that plays many roles in the body, including synthesizing hormones and vitamin D. It also assists in the transporting of lipids. Cholesterol is found in the foods you eat, but it is also made by the liver.
We need some cholesterol to build healthy cells, but an accumulation of the bad kind can be problematic, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. The recommended ranges for your cholesterol will depend on your age. Find out what cholesterol levels are, why age is a factor, and how to keep your levels within a healthy range.
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The Cold Hard Facts On Cholesterol
According to the CDC, more than 102 million American adults have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL. More than 35 million of these have levels exceeding 240 mg/dL. Which puts them at high risk for heart disease.10
These are frightening statistics. Its obvious that many Americans dont know that theyre at risk or dont know how to change that risk.
If youre carrying a little too much weight, know that youre eating a poor diet, or have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, you should see your doctor immediately for a very simple cholesterol test. Once you know where things stand, it becomes so much easier to improve your cholesterol.
Taking care of your heart must be at the top of everyones list weve only got one engine for life, after all.
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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