Are Test Results Accurate
HDL cholesterol testing is extremely common and frequently used to evaluate cardiovascular risk. Like any test, though, HDL cholesterol tests are not perfectly accurate. Certain factors that can influence accuracy of any single test include:
- Individual variability: There can be some differences in HDL cholesterol levels based on individual factors like stress or posture during the test. Minor variation can also occur between laboratories.
- Acute illness: Levels of cholesterol in the blood are affected by inflammation, so infections or other illnesses that produce inflammation may interfere with the accuracy of HDL cholesterol tests.
- Certain blood disorders: Some conditions that affect blood cells cause an increase in a type of protein, known as an M protein, in the blood. In people with these conditions, HDL cholesterol tests may show a lower level of HDL cholesterol than is actually present in their blood.
Point-of-care and at-home tests that use a fingerstick blood sample are nearly as accurate as laboratory testing, but there may be more variability in accuracy based on the brand and the quality of its test.
How To Lower Cholesterol: Know Your Fats
The American Heart Association recommends that just 25% to 35% of your daily calories come from fats such as those found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. For healthy people, saturated fat should comprise no more than 7% of your total calories. On a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, that’s about 140 calories worth of saturated fat. If you need to lower your LDL cholesterol, limit saturated fat to 5% to 6% of calories, or about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000-calorie diet. Reduce trans fats to less than 1% of your total daily calories. This means avoiding fried foods and many junk foods.
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.
Read Also: Hdl And Alcohol
What Does The Test Measure
An HDL cholesterol test analyzes a sample of blood to see how much cholesterol is present within high-density lipoprotein particles. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is important for basic cell function. Cholesterol is transported through the body in the blood within lipoproteins, which are made up of fat and protein.
There are multiple kinds of lipoproteins that can carry cholesterol including high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins , and very low-density lipoproteins .
Cholesterol in LDL and VLDL particles can build up in the arteries and cause cardiovascular problems. In contrast, HDL particles transport cholesterol to the liver so that it can be eliminated from the body. Through this and other functions, HDL cholesterol helps protect against hardening and blockages of the arteries.
In practice, virtually all HDL cholesterol tests also measure total cholesterol, which is the sum of cholesterol found in all the different kinds of lipoproteins. By subtracting HDL cholesterol from total cholesterol, the doctor can determine the amount of non-HDL cholesterol that is present. In addition, tests like a lipid panel use a mathematical formula to calculate the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood sample.
What Is The Normal Hdl Cholesterol Range
A healthy HDL cholesterol range is 60 mg per 10 liters of blood and higher.
If HDL cholesterol levels go below 50 mg per 10 liters of blood for women and 40 mg per 10 liters for men, you are ‘at risk’. That means there’s a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
You can determine your HDL cholesterol levels by getting a lipid profile test at your GP. Your doctor will either take a blood sample or do a prick test and carry out a few measurements. These are:
- Total cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
After taking a lipid profile test, your GP can use the information to carry out a 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk assessment. This will allow them to calculate the risk of you developing heart problems within the next 10 years.
Don’t Miss: Snow Crab Cholesterol
The Consequences Of Too Much Bad Cholesterol
Once the bad cholesterol starts to accumulate in the bloodstream, problems begin to arise.
Sometimes the cholesterol sticks to the walls of the arteries, and it hardens into plaque. This plaque can crack the walls of the arteries, which can cause serious bleeding and clots.
Even if the plaque doesnt break, it will clog up the arteries and prevent enough blood from flowing through them.
Not enough blood means the muscles in the area are not getting enough oxygen, meaning that the muscles begin to die. If those muscles happen to be either the heart or the brain, you are in serious trouble.
Which Cholesterol Number Is The Most Important
When we measure cholesterol and blood fats, were really talking about three different numbers: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. They combine to give you a lipid profile score, but the three individual scores are most important. Here are the numbers to strive for: Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower.
Don’t Miss: Shrimp Has High Cholesterol
Guide To Understanding Cholesterol Numbers The Healthy Cholesterol Ratio And How To Read A Cholesterol Chart
It can be hard to understand the cholesterol numbers on the cholesterol food chart, much less what your doctor is saying when he tells you, Your total cholesterol is 240, your HDL is 35, your LDL is 170, and your triglycerides are 350.
What do these cholesterol values mean, and what do the results of the cholesterol blood test tell you?
If you have a hard time understanding cholesterol and the cholesterol chart, never fear.
This page on cholesterol numbers will answer the question What is cholesterol, will help you to understand about cholesterol in food, teach you about a good cholesterol ratio and cholesterol range, will help you to understand about the importance of a cholesterol blood test, and how you can maintain good cholesterol levels.
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 bodys 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:
You May Like: Is Tuna Fish Good For Cholesterol
How Is High Cholesterol Treated
There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol , including lifestyle changes or medication, or both. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine which therapy is best for you.
Healthcare providers like to start with the least invasive treatments when possible, such as lifestyle changes. Youll be advised to:
- Avoid tobacco. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways, and reducing your level of good cholesterol is one of them.
- Change the way you eat. Limit the number of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
- Get more exercise. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, or about 30 minutes per day for most days of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to do this. Youll see results even before you reach your ideal weight. Losing even 10% of your body weight makes a difference in your cholesterol levels.
- Reduce the effect of negative emotions. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress or other negative emotions.
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure. Make sure you follow your healthcare providers instructions for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, and for keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.
- Atorvastatin .
- Simvastatin .
- Pitavastatin .
High Cholesterol Causes And Risk Factors
Lots of things can raise or lower your cholesterol levels. They include:
Saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. Reducing the amount of saturated fat, simple carbohydrates, and cholesterol in your diet can help lower your blood cholesterol.
Trans fats. Avoid artificial trans fats, which can raise your cholesterol. Check labels on baked goods, snack foods, frozen pizza, margarine, coffee creamer, vegetable shortenings, and refrigerated dough . Keep in mind that items that say they have 0 g trans fat can actually have a tiny bit of trans fat in each serving, which adds up. So check the ingredients list. Partially hydrogenated means it has trans fat in it.
Good fats. Unsaturated fats dont raise cholesterol levels. You can find unsaturated fats in foods like nuts, fish, vegetable oil, olive oil, canola and sunflower oils, and avocados. Limit saturated fats, which you find in animal products, and dont eat processed meats.
Sugar. Eating and drinking too much sugar raises your triglyceride levels. High levels of triglycerides make heart disease more likely. Check food and drink labels to see how much sugar has been added, apart from sugars that are naturally part of a food. The average woman should get no more than 5 teaspoons per day from added sugars, and men shouldnt get more than 9 teaspoons per day calories, according to the American Heart Association.
Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
You May Like: Pork Chop Cholesterol
Also Check: How Much Cholesterol In Skinless Chicken Breast
Understanding The Role Of Hdl Cholesterol
Although you may hear a lot about lowering cholesterol numbers, HDL cholesterol is one type of cholesterol that you want as high as possible. Thats because HDL cholesterol is thought to carry low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where its removed from the body.
Healthy blood cholesterol levels vary by age and gender. For women age 20 or older, experts suggest aiming for an HDL cholesterol level of 50 mg/dL or higher. For men age 20 or older, the recommendation is an HDL cholesterol level of 40 mg/dL or higher. Healthy levels are believed to offer protection against heart disease and stroke.
Hdl Cholesterol Ratio From Good To Bad
Lets start with HDL cholesterol, the good stuff.
When you go in for the cholesterol blood test, your doctor takes a sample of your blood and tests it to find out how high your HDL cholesterol is. The numbers will come back, and good ol doc will tell you:
- Your HDL cholesterol is higher than 60 Oh boy, this is good news. If your HDL cholesterol is higher than 60, you are about as healthy as it is going to get.
- Your HDL cholesterol is between 40 and 60 Uh oh, maybe you might want to start cutting back on the fats. If your HDL cholesterol is lower than 60, you are at a moderate risk of heart problems. Better start doing exercise and dieting to raise your HDL.
- Your HDL cholesterol is lower than 40 Danger, Danger!!! If your HDL cholesterol dips lower than 40, it means that you are at serious risk of heart problems due to the fact that your body cant get rid of all the cholesterol naturally.
Read Also: Salmon Roe Cholesterol
How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Total Cholesterol Test
A total cholesterol test measures the sum of all cholesterol found in different kinds of lipoproteins. The total cholesterol number includes HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and VLDL cholesterol.
Because these kinds of cholesterol have distinct implications for cardiovascular health, tests of total cholesterol often measure HDL cholesterol as well so that more information is provided about the ratio of HDL to non-HDL cholesterol in the blood.
Why Is Hdl Cholesterol Better Than Ldl Cholesterol
Let’s start with a quick cholesterol recap.
When your cholesterol levels get too high, fatty buildups can start to form in the walls of your arteries. Over time, these buildups turn to plaques, which can narrow your arteries and make it difficult for blood to flow through.
This can increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease and other conditions including:
- Heart attack
- Chronic kidney disease
Now, on to HDL cholesterol. This “good cholesterol” gets its name because:
- It transports LDL cholesterol, the primary driver of fatty buildups, back to the liver, where it’s removed from your body.
- It can have an anti-inflammatory effect, protecting blood vessels from LDL cholesterol.
- It can remove existing plaques from artery walls.
- It has antioxidant effects, which protect chemical messengers and cells in the body.
Your HDL cholesterol level provides an important indicator for the health of your cardiovascular system.
Recommended Reading: Is Tuna High In Cholesterol
Boost Hdl With Lifestyle Changes
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your HDL cholesterol level. Keep in mind: The higher your HDL level, the better. Thankfully, most of these steps lower your LDL level at the same, providing extra heart-healthy benefits. Try to:
Aim for a healthy weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. Losing weight can reduce your LDL cholesterol level while also increasing your HDL level.
Get moving. Not only can exercise boost your HDL level, it can also help you shed pounds. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This can include taking a brisk walk, riding a bike, or playing a sport. Break down the 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed.
Clean up your diet. Saturated and trans fats are thought to lower your HDL cholesterol level, as well as raise LDL cholesterol. Limit both by eating leaner cuts of meat, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and fewer desserts and packaged or fried foods. Focus instead on eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Kick the habit. Smoking is linked to lower HDL cholesterol, as well as higher LDL cholesterol. Improving your cholesterol levels is just one more reason to quit. Ask your provider for resources that can help.
What Causes High Hdl Cholesterol
There are a number of possible causes for high HDL cholesterol, and some of these can be reversed. If you have high HDL cholesterol, your doctor should consider whats causing it to decide on a course of action.
What you eat and drink
Eating a diet high in saturated fats and drinking too much alcohol can contribute to a higher level of HDL. If you and your doctor discuss making lifestyle changes, you will need to keep these going for an agreed time period, such as three months, before checking your HDL cholesterol levels again to see if the changes are working.
Some medicines could raise your HDL levels, including:
- the oral contraceptive pill
- oestrogen replacement therapy
- anti convulsants.
Your doctor should ask you questions about your family to understand if your high HDL could be inherited.
If members of your family, including your parents, grandparents and siblings, have lived for a long time, this is reassuring. If you have a family history of heart disease or strokes, your doctor may want to refer you to a lipid specialist.
Some people with Japanese ancestry have high HDL levels due to a lack of a protein called CETP. This is inherited in the genes.
Research has suggested that the changes in hormones that happen during the menopause can affect the way HDL works in the body, and HDL loses some of its protective effects in some women.
Infections and inflammation
Read Also: What Is The Role Of Hdl
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 varies.