What Are Some Things That Can Affect My Cholesterol Levels
There are a variety of factors that can affect your cholesterol. While some things are unavoidable like age and family history, making heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as balanced meal plans, regular exercise, and weight management goes a long way to improving your long-term health, said Chiadika.
- Diet Foods rich in saturated fat or trans fat have the biggest impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Consider healthier options to help reduce intake of these types of fats.
- Obesity Being overweight raises your triglycerides levels and lowers your HDL. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes regularly.
- Smoking This not only lowers your HDL level but also raises your LDL level. Eliminate this habit or look into a smoking cessation program.
- Age Cholesterol levels tend to rise as we age. Although less common, children and teens can also have high levels as well.
- Family history High cholesterol can run in families. In most cases, children with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated levels of cholesterol.
What Complications Are Possible If You Dont Treat High Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood
The main reason to treat high cholesterol is to prevent or treat coronary heart disease , also called coronary artery disease or CAD. CHD happens when heart is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to function well and kills more people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. CHD usually refers to the large arteries, but there is also a condition called coronary microvascular disease that affects the small vessels and causes damage.
Health Problems Can Arise When You Have Elevated Levels Of Bad Cholesterol
A waxy compound found in your bodys cells, cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and present in some foods. There are two types of proteins that carry cholesterol through the bloodstream: high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein . HDL is considered good cholesterol, as it absorbs cholesterol and brings it back to the liver, whereas LDL is bad” cholesterol.
What makes LDL so concerning? Why is it bad? High levels can cause plaque to form in your arteries. In turn, this can lead to a range of serious conditions, such as coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease , among others. These diseases are leading causes of heart attack and stroke.
This being the case, checking LDL levelsas part of a broader assessment of cholesterolis an essential part of a routine physical. If your levels are high, youll need to manage the condition, which can mean everything from adopting lifestyle changes to taking medication. Learning more about cholesterol and LDL helps you understand your health overall.
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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.
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.
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How To Lower High Ldl Cholesterol
If your LDL levels are found to be borderline high, high, or very high, youll need to manage the condition and lower them. While some approaches can be challenging to keep up with, theyre usually quite successful. Oftentimes, successfully lowering bad cholesterol will require mixing and matching methods. Whats most important is that you detect any abnormalities as soon as you can and remain proactive in taking them on.
What Is Considered High Cholesterol
Lipid panel results that fall outside of the desired range place you at higher risk of heart disease and stroke:
Borderline High 200 to 239 mg/dL
High at or above 240 mg/dL
Near-Optimal 100 to 129 mg/dL
Borderline High 130 to 159 mg/dL
High 160 to 189 mg/dL
Very High at or above 190 mg/dL
Borderline High 150 to 199 mg/dL
High 200 to 499 mg/dL
Very High at or above 500 mg/dL
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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.
Why Normal Levels Can Differ Across Different Labs
Each laboratory must establish its own normal ranges for LDL cholesterol in the blood. These ranges depend on the makeup of the local population, the technologies used and the accuracy of the measurement. There may be also slight differences in the normal levels, according to age, gender, race or ethnic origin, geographic region, diet, type of sample and other relevant status.
Your doctor will study the results along with your medical record, screenings, physical condition, symptoms and any other relevant information about your situation.
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What Does The Test Measure
An LDL cholesterol test checks the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Results are typically measured in milligrams per deciliter .
Cholesterol is a fatty substance your body naturally creates to help in digesting food, creating hormones, and making vitamin D. Cholesterol is made up of different types of lipoproteins, which are a combination of fats, also known as lipids, and proteins. Lipids connect to proteins to be able to move through your blood. Cholesterol testing often measures different substances in the blood:
- High-density cholesterol: HDL carries cholesterol from other parts of your body to your liver for processing and removal and is considered the good cholesterol.
- Low-density cholesterol: LDL is known as the bad cholesterol because too much of it in your blood can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, putting you at risk of heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.
- Triglycerides:;Triglycerides are fats created by the foods we eat. These fats are stored until your body needs energy. Triglycerides are processed by your body when it needs energy. Having high levels of triglycerides can lead to coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
- Very low-density cholesterol: VLDL is similar to LDL cholesterol but carries triglycerides through the blood. VLDL can contribute to plaque buildup and is considered a bad cholesterol.
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.
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How Do You Treat High Cholesterol
If at some point your doctor tells you that your cholesterol is high, there is a very good chance that Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes will be discussed soon after. TLC includes diet, exercise and weight management. Now, before you roll your eyes and think, here we go again with the diet and exercise talk, stop and think about it. A few improvements in the foods you eat, coupled with reasonable increases in your activity, can have a significant impact on your cholesterol levels. If you could put that health impact in the form of a pill, people would probably be willing to stand in line for days to get a bottle. It only takes a few weeks to build new healthy habits, but over time your health will benefit greatly.
When you are not able to lower your cholesterol levels enough through lifestyle changes alone, your doctor may couple those changes with drug therapies. Some of the medications available include:
Statins that reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by your liver
Bile acid sequestrants that reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs from your diet
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors reduce the number of triglycerides in your blood and reduce the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from your diet
Certain vitamins and supplements that stop your liver from removing HDL
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements that raise the level of HDL and lowers triglycerides
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.
“It’s important to understand that, if HDL is high, it’s distributed in a form of cholesterol that we’re 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 it’s caused by elevated levels of good cholesterol.
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Normal Range Ldl Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels can pose a;serious risk of coronary heart disease, a major cause of heart attacks, and reduction of blood lipid levels reduces the risk of cardiovascular risk. While high LDL levels can be a cause for the;build-up of cholesterol in the arteries, HDL helps transportation of cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body. Any build up of cholesterol can lead to narrowing of arteries, a condition involving the;formation of plaques and leading to restriction of blood flow.
High cholesterol levels usually result from modifiable and non-modifiable causes, diet and exercise being the two major factors. These factors of cholesterol are highly modifiable. This means that you can change these risk factors to suit your condition and reduce the chances of high cholesterol.
It is quite easy to detect high cholesterol through the way of blood testing. As stated by doctors guidelines, every individual above the age of 20 years should get the cholesterol levels checked regularly, at least once every five years.
The cholesterol test is usually done after fasting, i.e. no food, pills, or drinks for at least 9-12 hours. Fasting would enable an accurate reading of LDL cholesterol level from the blood. In addition, the screening also provides info about the total cholesterol levels, including triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels.
The set guidelines for LDL cholesterol levels along with the interpretation range that help determine the heart risk of individuals is:
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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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.
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.
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Getting Help For Your Child
If you are worried about your child’s weight, consider consulting with a registered dietitian or expressing your concerns with your pediatrician.
Children can benefit from getting involved in meal planning, shopping, and cooking, reducing intake of sweetened beverages, and learning how to eat more fruits and vegetables. Being a good role model and getting the entire family on board is also important for making changes and providing your child with confidence.
Cholesterol Chart For Adults
According to the 2018 guidelines on the management of blood cholesterol published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , these are the acceptable, borderline, and high measurements for adults.
All values are in mg/dL and are based on fasting measurements.
Your doctor may recommend a plan of treatment for high cholesterol that includes lifestyle modifications and potentially medication. This will vary based on factors like other medications you may be taking, your age, sex, and general health.
Here are some medications more commonly prescribed for high cholesterol:
Medications can also be used to treat contributing factors to cholesterol like triglycerides. These may be used in addition to some of the medications above.
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What Is A Good Cholesterol Level
To understand cholesterol levels, it is first helpful to understand how cholesterol is measured. Cholesterol is not floating around in your bloodstream by itself. If it was, it would just be globs of fat that would not be able to use. For cholesterol to be useful, it attaches to proteins before it enters the blood. These combinations of cholesterol and proteins are called lipoproteins. There are several types of lipoproteins, but the two that receive the most attention are:
Taking Time To Stay Active
If a person is not at a moderate weight or has obesity, they may have an increased risk of high LDL cholesterol. If a person is not very active and has a high body mass index , they may need to increase their activity levels.
Adults should aim to complete 150 minutes of physical activity a week. A weekly routine may include 30 minutes of exercise over 5 days. A person could try cardio, for example, such as brisk walking or running. Muscle-strengthening activities such as hill walking or resistance weight training may also help with maintaining moderate weight levels.
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