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.
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.
Cholesterol And Heart Disease
When too much cholesterol is present, plaque may form in the bodys arteries narrowing the space for blood to flow to the heart. Over time, this build up causes atherosclerosis which can lead to heart disease.When not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the heart chest pain called angina can result. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by total blockage of a coronary artery, the result is a heart attack. This is usually due to a sudden closure from a blood clot forming on top of a previous narrowing.
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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:
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 don’t 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 don’t 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 shouldn’t get more than 9 teaspoons per day calories, according to the American Heart Association.
Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
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Other Changes To Your Diet
Although these foods provide benefit to lowering your cholesterol, making other changes to your diet and lifestyle can also help.;Cut back on the cholesterol and total fat, especially saturated and trans fats that you eat. Saturated fats, like those in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils, raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats, which are sometimes found in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein , the bad, cholesterol, and lower high-density lipoprotein , the good, cholesterol.
In addition to changing your diet, keep in mind that making additional heart-healthy lifestyle changes are key to lowering your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about exercising, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight to help keep your cholesterol level low.
What Affects My Cholesterol Levels
A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are some things you can do to lower your cholesterol levels:
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise. Saturated fat is the main problem, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level. Foods that have high levels of saturated fats include some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
- Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It also raises your HDL cholesterol level.
- Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.
- Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. HDL helps to remove bad cholesterol from your arteries. So a lower HDL can contribute to a higher level of bad cholesterol.
Things outside of your control that can also affect cholesterol levels include:
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What To Know About Triglycerides
In addition to cholesterol, you might hear about your triglycerides, another kind of fat found in the bloodstream. Women should pay particular attention to this. A high level of triglycerides seems to predict an even greater risk for heart disease in women compared with men, says Michos.
When you take in more calories than you need, your body converts the extra calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy, but people with excess triglycerides have higher risk of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. Drinking a lot of alcohol and eating foods containing simple carbohydrates , saturated fats and trans fats contributes to high triglycerides. High levels may also be caused by health conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome or kidney disease.
Triglycerides also circulate in the bloodstream on particles that may contribute to plaque formation. Many people with high triglycerides have other risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high LDL levels or low HDL levels, or abnormal blood sugar levels. Genetic studies have also shown some association between triglycerides and cardiovascular disease.
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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.
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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 …
Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home cholesterol testing is available to measure calculated levels of LDL cholesterol. At-home testing for cholesterol uses a blood sample taken by a device that pricks your finger to obtain a small drop of blood that can be tested.
There are two types of at-home LDL tests that use a fingerstick blood sample:
- Self-tests:;In this kind of test, the analysis of your blood happens at home. This can be done by applying a drop of blood on paper that is then placed into a small device that determines the cholesterol levels. Another type of self-test uses chemically treated paper that indicates the levels of cholesterol in your blood.
- Self-collection:;For this kind of test, your blood sample is taken at home but is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
For help deciding whether an at-home cholesterol test kit is right for you, it may be helpful to talk to your primary care doctor or cardiologist. It is common to have a follow-up cholesterol test performed by a doctor if an at-home cholesterol test kit finds abnormal results.
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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.
What Is Your Cholesterol Level Supposed To Be
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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.
Youve Got To Move It Move It
Regular physical activity can raise HDL and lower triglycerides. To improve cholesterol levels, adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.
Children aged 5 and older should get moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 1 hour per day, 3 days per week. Moderate to vigorous activities include jogging or things like playing baseball. Vigorous activities include running, tennis, and playing soccer.
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How Much Does The Test Cost
You may find it helpful to talk with your doctor about the costs of cholesterol testing. The cost of cholesterol testing may depend on several factors:
- What type of cholesterol test is being taken
- Whether LDL is being calculated or measured
- Insurance coverage
- Where the test is being performed
Blood testing is typically covered by insurance when prescribed by a doctor, but you may be responsible for out-of-pocket costs on copays, deductibles, or technician fees.
Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.
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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.
Even though there is no clear-cut number about what LDL level is too low, levels under 40 mg/dL may be associated with certain health issues, including depression/anxiety, and hemorrhagic stroke.
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.
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 Often Should I Get My Cholesterol Levels Checked
The frequency of getting your cholesterol levels tested depends on your age, presence of risk factors, and family history like a history of heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
The following provides general recommendations for various age groups.
People who are 19 years of age or younger should:
- Get the first test done between ages 9 to 11 years
- Repeat the test every 5 years
- For children, who have a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke, the testing may start at 2 years of age
People who are age 20 years or older:
- Those between the age of 20 to 44 years should get tested every 5 years
- Women in the age group 45 to 54 years should get tested every 5 years
- Men in the age group 45 to 65 years should get their cholesterol levels checked every 1-2 years
- Women in the age group 55 to 65 years should get tested every 1-2 years
High Blood Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood.; Too much of it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The condition doesn’t have any obvious symptoms so blood tests are required to confirm if a person has high blood cholesterol.
Changes to diet, regular exercise and other lifestyle changes can reduce cholesterol levels; In some cases, people with persistent high blood cholesterol may be treated with cholesterol-lowering medication.
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