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.
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
Firstly What Is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that’s carried in the blood.
All cells in the body need cholesterol it’s an essential part of cell walls in our bodies and has important roles, including to produce some hormones, maintain healthy nerve cells and in the synthesis of vitamin D.
Your body needs a small amount of cholesterol to function, but an imbalance between different types of cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of heart disease, one of the leading chronic diseases in Australia today.
About ¾ of the cholesterol in your body is made in the liver and a small amount may come from the food you eat. Various factors affect blood cholesterol levels including your diet and lifestyle, body weight and genes.
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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.
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, dont 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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Cut Back On Sugar For Higher Hdl Cholesterol Levels
According to a study published in November 2015 in the journal Nature, a diet high in carbohydrates like added sugar, white bread, cookies, and cakes reduces HDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk for metabolic disorders. Refined carbohydrates found in foods labeled low-fat make these just as bad as full-fat foods because the fat is often replaced with carbohydrates from added sugar and other starches.
A study of 2,500 people with diabetes, published in October 2016 in the journal Nutrition Metabolism Cardiovascular Disease, found that following nutritional recommendations to limit added sugar in the diet was linked to significantly higher HDL cholesterol levels.
When trying to reduce added sugar in your diet, Ahmed says its best to slowly replace sugars with fruits and vegetables. He adds, Also try to avoid trans fats, including fried foods or those prepared with shortening, since these may also reduce HDL.
Medicines To Lower Your Cholesterol Level
Medicines called statins are most often used to lower cholesterol levels. There are other cholesterol-lowering medicines that your doctor might prescribe, like resins, fibrates, and niacin. If you need to take a medicine to lower your cholesterol level, your doctor will help you find the one that works best for you.
Estrogen replacement therapy lowers your bad cholesterol level and raises your good cholesterol level. However, studies have not shown that it lowers the risk of heart disease.
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What Is A Good Hdl Score
Typically, doctors recommend an HDL level of 60 milligrams per deciliter of blood or higher. HDL that falls within the range of 40 to 59 mg/dL is normal, but could be higher. Having HDL under 40 mg/dL increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Similarly, what is a good HDL level for a woman? HDL blood cholesterol levelsOptimal: above 60 mg/dL. Levels above 60 mg/dL are considered especially beneficial and can offset risk factors for heart disease, according to AHA. The higher the level, the healthier it is. Low: less than 50 mg/dL for women less than 40 mg/dL for men.
Also know, what is the normal range for HDL and LDL?
Men age 20 or older:
|Type of Cholesterol|
|40mg/dL or higher|
Is an HDL level of 75 good?
HDL cholesterol levels greater than 60 milligrams per deciliter are high. That’s good. HDL cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL are low. That’s not so good.
How Often To Get Tested
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , most healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years.
Your risk factors also determine how often your cholesterol should be checked. Adults who have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity need more frequent readings, as do all adults as they age.
Children should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 20 years of age. If a child has a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or is overweight or obese, their pediatrician may recommend getting checked sooner and more often.
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How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Lipid Panel
A lipid panel always includes a measurement of HDL cholesterol, but HDL cholesterol levels can be tested without doing a full lipid panel.
A standard lipid panel measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. It then uses those measurements to calculate the amount of LDL cholesterol.
Can Bad Cholesterol Levels Be Too Low Can Good Cholesterol Levels Be Too High
It isnt often that people have bad cholesterol that is too low or good cholesterol that is too high. There are studies being done that suggest that extremes of any kind are not healthy for everyone.
However, there is data from clinical trials to support that there is no evidence of harm when LDLs remain < 40mg/dl on statin therapy.
In some cases, genetic conditions can cause you to have very low cholesterol levels. In other cases, nutritional problems, some cancers, hypothyroidism and certain infections can also cause low cholesterol levels. In any of these types of situations, the underlying issues need to be addressed.
In terms of having too much of a good thing, researchers are studying the effects of too much HDL, the good cholesterol. No conclusions have been reached, but there have been studies into the possible relationship between high HDL and cancer, and a greater risk of heart attack among the high risk. Excessively high HDL may be dysfunctional HDL and not protective.
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Why Cholesterol Levels Differ In Men And Women
Healthy cholesterol levels are the same for boys and girls through childhood. But this changes when puberty hits. Women have higher HDL cholesterol from puberty on. Boys have more testosterone, which lowers HDL,Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine, emeritus, at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, former president of the American Heart Association and president of the American Diabetes Association, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Essentially, after puberty, women tend to have higher levels of good cholesterol than men. Theoretically, this is why women live longer and tend to have heart attacks later in life , Dr. Eckel says.
Pregnant women or older women taking hormone-replacement therapy to manage menopausal symptoms tend to have higher average cholesterol, Dr. Eckel says. But this increase is actually caused by HDL, which can be quite high for these groups.
Its important to understand that, if HDL is high, its distributed in a form of cholesterol that were not concerned about, he says. In fact, it may be protecting women from the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.
This is why understanding the difference between HDL and LDL is so important simply having high total cholesterol may not be an issue if its caused by elevated levels of good cholesterol.
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Start An Exercise Program To Raise Hdl Cholesterol
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and can also increase HDL cholesterol levels. Aerobic exercises, such as running, biking, and swimming, along with moderate weight training are good choices to help best boost those good cholesterol levels.
For women after menopause, a study published in August 2016 in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism found that high intensity interval training led to better HDL cholesterol levels as well as significant weight loss. And a study published in May 2016 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that obese men who engaged in aerobic interval training or resistance training just three days a week for 12 weeks had significantly increased HDL cholesterol when compared with obese men who did no training.
Exercise is excellent because it may independently raise your HDL, but also leads to weight loss, which may account for additional gains in your HDL, says Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH, a preventive cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
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Why Cholesterol Matters For Women
Ah, cholesterol and triglycerides. We hear about them all the time. Even foods that might seem good for you on the surface, like fruit-filled yogurt or bran muffins, can contribute to abnormal levels if they contain too much saturated fat or refined sugar, says Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
Whats more, many women are at risk for high cholesterol and dont realize it. Approximately 45 percent of women over the age of 20 have a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and above, which is considered elevated but a survey by the American Heart Association found that 76 percent of women say they dont even know what their cholesterol values are, Michos says.
Scarier still: Triglycerides, a type of blood fat typically measured alongside cholesterol, are even more risky in women compared with men. This is a problem because womens cholesterol levels can fluctuate quite a bit after menopause and tend to increase with age, putting us at greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your cholesterol numbers and how to control them is a big step toward staying healthy.
Pharmaceutical Drugs And Niacin
Pharmacological therapy to increase the level of HDL cholesterol includes use of fibrates and niacin. Fibrates have not been proven to have an effect on overall deaths from all causes, despite their effects on lipids.
Niacin increases HDL by selectively inhibiting hepatic diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2, reducing triglyceride synthesis and VLDL secretion through a receptor HM74 otherwise known as niacin receptor 2 and HM74A / GPR109A,niacin receptor 1.
In contrast, while the use of statins is effective against high levels of LDL cholesterol, most have little or no effect in raising HDL cholesterol.Rosuvastatin and pitavastatin, however, have been demonstrated to significantly raise HDL levels.
Lovaza has been shown to increase HDL-C. However, the best evidence to date suggests it has no benefit for primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
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How Does Diet Affect Cholesterol Levels
Your cholesterol level has a lot to do with what foods you choose to put on your plate.
In the United States, Cardiovascular Disease is one of the leading causes of poor health, sometimes accompanied by death.
This happens to be directly associated with poor eating habits.
For instance, consuming too much fat can increase LDL cholesterol. Subsequently, elevating the risk of heart disease.
However, choosing a healthy diet reverses this process, giving you a clean bill on health.
And if these are not enough, there are other foods to sink your teeth into in order to balance your cholesterol level.
Here are some foods to increase HDL and decrease LDL levels.
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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What Affects Cholesterol Levels
There are a variety of factors that can affect cholesterol levels. Some risk factors are within your control, while others are not:
- Genetics: These factors include familial hypercholesterolemia and a family history of heart disease.
- Sex: Males often have higher levels of LDL. After menopause, a woman’s LDL levels can also increase.
- Weight: People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of having high cholesterol.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can increase the risk of overweight and obesity and, in turn, increase cholesterol levels.
- Diet: Overall diet quality can affect cholesterol in a negative way, including eating too many saturated and trans fats and not enough fiber.
- Age: Your body’s ability to clear cholesterol can be impacted as you age.
- Race and ethnicity: There are different rates of high cholesterol based on race/ethnicity and sex, with the highest rates among males in Hispanics and the highest rates among females in non-Hispanic Whites.
- Smoking: Smoking can increase your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol.
- Other medical conditions: Having a previous history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.
How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body
Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
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Is My Cholesterol Ratio Healthy
There are several types of cholesterol tests, sometimes called a lipid panel. One test measures a person’s total cholesterol level. A healthy total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. But if a person has high HDL cholesterol , it can cause elevated cholesterol overall. This is why measuring different types of cholesterol is so important.
A ratio is simply a comparison between two numbers. A cholesterol ratio compares a person’s HDL cholesterol to the total cholesterol in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How to Calculate Cholesterol Ratio
This number is found by dividing the total amount of cholesterol by the HDL number. For example, if a person has an overall cholesterol level of 225 mg/dL and an HDL of 80 mg/dL, his or her cholesterol ratio is 2.8-to-1, also written as 2.8:1 or simplified to cholesterol ratio 2.8.
A healthy cholesterol level is no more than 5:1, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. But the lower the ratio, the better. A ratio of 3.5:1 or lower is considered very good.
However, Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine, emeritus, at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, former president of the American Heart Association and president of the American Diabetes Association, doesn’t think cholesterol ratios are the most accurate way to determine a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease.