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.
What Causes 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.
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
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What Is Considered A Normal Cholesterol Level
Its important to understand what is considered normal for cholesterol levels, as you will no doubt have your cholesterol tested many times. In fact, you should be having your cholesterol tested as part of your yearly physical exam. Dont be fooled if youre a skinny body type, either. The sneaky thing about cholesterol is that you can be a slim person and still have high cholesterol.4
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per tenth-liter of blood. To determine your healthy total cholesterol levels, your HDL and LDL are added together.
This reading should be below 200 mg/dL. You can break that down further and say that your LDL cholesterol should always be less than 160 mg/dl, 130 mg/dL, or 100 mg/dL depending on your risk factors.
These risk factors could include a family history of heart disease, menopause, and others. Meanwhile, your HDL cholesterol should sit around 35 mg/dL, but preferably higher.5
The higher your HDL level, the more you are protected against LDL cholesterol and the problems it can cause.
How Does It Feel High Cholesterol
High cholesterol brings the effect directly to the bloodstream system. As the cholesterol blockage the artery, the bloodstream to heart will be disturbed or even blocked. It is because the artery carries the blood to the heart and if the cholesterol blocked it, the blood will not flow smoothly.
Before its getting worse in such of disease like heart attack and stroke, there are some sickness in several body parts. It cant be separated from the blood circulation system. And so the sicknesses are neck pain, headache, chest pain, bloody stools, jaw pain, and numbness in leg. The development of the plaque that produced by the high amount of bad cholesterol distracts the move of the blood to these areas.
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What Do The Results Mean
The results of the test determine whether the cholesterol levels in the persons blood are healthy.
The results will be broken down into several categories by the type of fat. The results are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood .
Total cholesterol levels
Having a result less than 200 mg/dL is considered good. Borderline high results range from 200-239 mg/dL. High cholesterol levels are considered to be any number over 240 mg/dL.
HDL cholesterol levels
With HDL, it is higher levels that are desirable. A result below 40 mg/dL is poor. A result between 40 and 59 mg/dL is better, while a reading of 60 mg/dL or higher is the best result.
LDL cholesterol levels
LDL cholesterol recommendations vary based on the health of an individual.
- People with heart disease or diabetes should aim for LDL levels below 70 mg/dL.
- Individuals with no heart disease but who are at higher risk for heart disease need to keep levels below 100 mg/dL.
- For people with no increased risk of heart disease, LDL levels between 100 and 129 mg/dL are near perfect.
- A reading from 130 to 159 mg/dL is considered borderline high for those with no heart disease and high for those where heart disease is present.
- A reading from 160 to 189 mg/dL is considered high for those without heart disease and very high for those with heart disease.
- A reading above 190 mg/dL is considered very high for all groups.
Lifestyle changes for high cholesterol include the following:
Good And Bad Cholesterol
There’s only one kind of cholesterol but it is carried around the body by different carriers called lipoproteins, notably:
- Low density lipoprotein
- High density lipoprotein
In simple terms, cholesterol carried by LDLs is considered bad because when theres too much of it circulating in your blood it contributes to plaque build-up that clogs arteries and makes them less flexible . If you have high blood cholesterol your goal will be to reduce LDL levels in your blood.
On the other hand, cholesterol carried by HDLs is considered good because it carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. Any lifestyle changes or treatment for high blood cholesterol will aim to ensure HDL levels are increased or maintained at healthy levels.
When blood cholesterol tests are done, the level of triglycerides in your blood is also measured. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat that exists in food and in the body. When calories ingested in a meal are not used immediately by the body, they are converted to triglycerides and are transported to the fat cells to be stored. It is thought that elevated triglyceride levels may increase the risk of developing heart disease, particularly when associated with high LDL-cholesterol levels.
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Further Information And Support
For assessment and treatment of high cholesterol levels see a doctor. For ideas about how to lower high cholesterol levels a doctor or dietitian can assist.
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
- kidney disease
- transient ischaemic attack – or a mini stroke
- peripheral arterial disease
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Diet And Lifestyle Changes
A doctor will look at your overall risk of cardiovascular disease and make recommendations to reduce high blood cholesterol as well as managing other risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and being overweight.
Reducing high blood cholesterol levels typically involves decreasing the total cholesterol level by decreasing LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, while maintaining or increasing HDL-cholesterol levels.
- LDL-cholesterol levels are best decreased by eating less saturated fat
- Triglyceride levels are best reduced by eating less sugar-containing foods, limiting alcohol intake, and reducing the intake of total fat
- HDL-cholesterol levels are best increased by exercise, substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat , and maintaining a healthy weight.
Heart-healthy dietary changes are summarised in our Heart disease diet page.
Other lifestyle changes should include:
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Limiting alcohol intake
Heart-healthy exercise suggestions are summarised in our Heart disease exercise page.
When To See A Doctor
The AHA recommend that both men and women over the age of 20 have their cholesterol, as well as a blood panel, checked every 4 to 6 years.
Doctors can use this information to treat early conditions. They can even predict a 10-year or lifetime risk for heart attack or stroke. Its important for people to get check-ups because high cholesterol does not have symptoms.
If a blood analysis is done and high levels of cholesterol are found, a doctor can help make a plan to reduce the risks. This plan may include lifestyle changes, such as exercise, diet, prescription medication, and nutrition advice.
Losing weight and exercising regularly, avoiding sugary food and alcohol, and taking cholesterol-lowering medication may help.
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Are Home Cholesterol Testing Kits Accurate
The answer is yes if the tests are labeled CDC-certified. This means that the contents have been approved by the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network, a group that works with test makers, laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure tests are accurate.
For home tests, you will still need to fast for 12 hours and to obtain blood for testing. Some kits come with packages for mailing to a lab for results. Other kits have a monitor so you can get the results at home. The cost of such home kits vary.
How Often Should I Get A Cholesterol Test
When and how often you should get a cholesterol test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger:
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older:
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
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What’s Considered As Normal Cholesterol Levels
Many factors influence what your personal cholesterol or lipid targets should be, and so cholesterol tests should be interpreted in the context of your personal risk.
Your doctor can help you understand your results and guide you on strategies to not only lower your cholesterol but lower your risk of heart disease.
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.
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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Hdl Cholesterol: ‘good’ Cholesterol
Not all cholesterol is bad. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher the HDL, the better. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce your risk for heart disease. Conversely, HDL levels of 40 mg/dL and lower are considered a high risk-factor for developing heart disease.
Causes Of High Cholesterol
A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.
Reducing the intake of fat in the diet helps to manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:
- Cholesterol: This is present in animal foods, meat, and cheese.
- Saturated fat: This occurs in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.
- Trans fats: This occurs in some fried and processed foods.
Excess weight or obesity can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetic factors can contribute to high cholesterol. People with the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia have very high LDL levels.
Other conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include:
In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered healthy.
- A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high.
- A reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.
- 100129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but may be a concern for anyone with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.
- 130159 mg/dL is borderline high.
- 160189 mg/dL is high.
- 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- eat a heart-healthy diet
- achieve and maintain a healthy weight
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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.
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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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.
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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About Your Cholesterol Result
A cholesterol test can measure:
- total cholesterol the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood, including both “good” and “bad” cholesterol
- good cholesterol this makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- bad cholesterol this makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- triglycerides a fatty substance similar to bad cholesterol
When you get your result, you may just be told your total cholesterol.
You might be able to get separate results for your good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Ask your doctor or nurse.
What Is Considered High Cholesterol Detailed Explanation
What Is Considered High Cholesterol, High cholesterol is the condition when the cholesterol is too much inside the blood vessel more than our body needs, but what is considered high cholesterol? As the thickening of the lipid layer that produced by the LDL, the lipid blocks the artery and builds a plaque.
This plaque disturbs the bloodstream towards our brain and heart by hardening the artery. It is very dangerous to know that it may cause some deadly diseases like heart attack and stroke or even worse the other diseases that will distress your life.
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