Cholesterol Levels For Men And Women
HDL levels differ for men and women
Women naturally have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men due to differences in the genes. Women should aim for an HDL cholesterol level above 1.2mmol/L while men should aim for above 1mmol/L.
Cholesterol levels can rise during pregnancy
During pregnancy, both cholesterol and triglyceride levels can significantly rise. We don’t recommend getting a cholesterol test during pregnancy because your results won’t be accurate. Our advice is to wait until at least 6-8 weeks after your baby is born or after you stop breastfeeding to get a cholesterol test. This means you don’t need to worry unnecessarily.
Cholesterol levels rise during the menopause
Women may also find their cholesterol levels rise during the menopause.
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.
Complications Of High Cholesterol
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute , there are no visible signs and symptoms of high cholesterol levels. When your cholesterol levels remain high for an extended period, your blood vessels are at an increased risk of being clogged with fat deposits. A sudden break/rupture in these deposits can result in a stroke or heart attack.
The following are some health complications that may occur due to high cholesterol:
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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.
High Cholesterol: Prevention, Treatment and Research
Low Hdl High Triglycerides
Low HDL, High triglycerides is a common cholesterol disorder. However, many people stay focused on LDL cholesterol. Often, they have no clue why they have low HDL, high triglycerides and how to raise HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides level.
There are three types of cholesterol you should know about:
1. HDL cholesterol, also known as the good cholesterol.
2. LDL cholesterol, also known as the bad cholesterol.
The cause may be a lack of an enzyme needed to help metabolize fat and get it out of the bloodstream. In some cases the problem appears along with another disorder such as hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, or diabetes. If a primary disease is identified and treated, the triglyceride levels should drop to normal.
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Cholesterol Levels For Adults
A doctor may classify a persons levels as high or low, borderline, or healthy.
Total cholesterol levels under 200 mg/dl are healthy for adults. Doctors treat readings of 200239 mg/dl as borderline high, and readings of at least 240 mg/dl as high.
Ideally, LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dl. Doctors may not express concern about levels of 100129 mg/dl for people with no health issues, but they may suggest treatment at this stage for people with heart disease or its risk factors.
If a persons reading is 130159 mg/dl, it is borderline high, while readings of 160189 mg/dl are high. A reading of at least 190 mg/dl is very high.
Doctors recommend keeping HDL levels higher. People with a reading of less than 40 mg/dl may have a risk of heart disease.
If a persons reading is 4159 mg/dl, doctors consider this borderline low. Optimal HDL levels are 60 mg/dl or higher.
When To Seek Medical Advice
A high triglyceride level often does not produce any symptoms, so this condition is usually diagnosed during routine blood tests including a lipid panel.
If the patient does not have any medical conditions or bad lifestyle choices, then the doctor usually orders a lipid panel to be done every few years to assess the triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
If the triglyceride levels are detected above the normal range in the lipid panel, then the doctor will usually recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet as the first line of treatment for hypertriglyceridemia. If diet and exercise are not effective in lowering the high triglycerides, then medications, such as fibrates or statins are prescribed.
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How Are High Triglycerides Found
A blood test called a lipid panel measures triglycerides and cholesterol. You should have this test after fasting for at least 12 hours.
Adults should get this screening test every five years or sooner. If you have diabetes, a family history of high triglycerides, or other risk factors, you may need screening more often, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines 13).
Why Is High Cholesterol A Problem
Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can harden arteries and promote fatty deposits within these arteries, potentially leading to dangerous blockages and narrowing over time called atherosclerosis.
If the blood vessels leading to your heart become too clogged, blood supply to your heart is reduced, which can lead to symptoms such as angina . If the artery becomes completely blocked, it can lead to a heart attack and stroke, which can be life threatening.
In 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 43, 477 deaths in Australia from heart disease. This is approximately 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia, and most deaths are occurring in those aged 65 years and over.
However, heart disease takes years to develop, so you can take steps to reduce your risk.If you discover you have high cholesterol, have family members with high cholesterol, or are not sure if you’re at risk, it is advisable you seek your doctor’s advice.
Other risk factors for heart disease include increased age, ethnicity, family history, inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.If these risk factors are present in your life, it’s even more important to keep your blood cholesterol levels in check and seek your doctor’s advice.
can help you begin to assess your risk, but we strongly advise you discuss your risk with your GP as this tool does have limitations it doesn’t take your family history into account, for example.
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What Do Low Triglyceride Levels Indicate And Can They Be Too Low
In general, having low triglyceride levels is not considered a problem. If your triglyceride levels are less than 150mg/dL, you have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke.
However, if your triglyceride levels are extremely low and less than 40mg/dL, then you may have a medical condition or disease, such as liver problems or inflammation. Your risk of dying from heart failure is also higher if triglycerides are too low.
Other causes of very low triglyceride levels include:
- Very low-fat diets
- Certain rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy
What Do I Need To Know Before Getting Screened
A cholesterol test is a simple blood test. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test. The results give you four measurements:5
- Total cholesterol. About 150 mg/dL is considered optimal.
- LDL cholesterol. About 100 mg/dL is considered optimal. LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol, because it can build up and clog your arteries, eventually leading to heart disease or stroke.
- HDL cholesterol. It is best to have greater than or equal to 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women. HDL is sometimes called good cholesterol, because it can help clear arteries of cholesterol buildup.
- Triglycerides. This is a type of fat in the blood. Optimal levels are typically less than 150 mg/dL.
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A Sign Of Metabolic Syndrome
People with metabolic syndrome are several times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. The risk of eventually developing diabetes is even greater.
A syndrome is, by definition, a group of signs and symptoms that occur together because of an underlying condition. For metabolic syndrome, that group includes abdominal obesity , high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol and, yes, levels.
So as doctors have started to take metabolic syndrome more seriously, they’ve also started to pay more attention to triglyceride levels as one of its telltale signs.
Triglycerides go it alone
HDL and triglycerides are metabolically connected and are often inversely related: As triglycerides go up, HDL goes down and vice versa. But that isn’t always so. People can have “isolated” high triglycerides without low HDL levels, and research is now showing that high triglycerides are an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, no matter what the HDL is.
Is My Cholesterol Ratio Healthy
There are several types of cholesterol tests, sometimes called a lipid panel. One test measures a personâs 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 personâs 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, doesnât think cholesterol ratios are the most accurate way to determine a personâs risk for cardiovascular disease.
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Drug Therapies To Treat High Cholesterol
When lifestyle changes alone cannot bring down high cholesterol, doctors may recommend medications. The reports that the following drugs and supplements can help:
- Statins: These drugs keep the liver from producing cholesterol.
- Bile acid sequestrants: These drugs reduce the amount of fat that the body absorbs from food.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: These drugs lower levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood and reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.
- Some vitamins and supplements: These, such as niacin, stop the liver from removing HDL and lower levels of triglycerides.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These raise HDL levels and lower triglyceride levels.
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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What To Think About
- Chylomicrons are another type of lipoprotein that are measured in a different test. Chylomicrons are in the blood and carry fat from your intestine to your liver. They carry triglycerides to your muscles for immediate use. Or they carry triglycerides to fat tissue for storage.
- Having a high cholesterol level increases your chances of having a heart attack. The higher your cholesterol, the greater your chances. An elevated total cholesterol level in younger people is particularly significant, since the narrowing of the coronary arteries usually takes many years to develop.
- Lifestyle changes may help lower blood cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol. Some people have better responses to diet and lifestyle changes than do others. Lifestyle changes might include:
- Quitting smoking.
- Eating healthier by reducing saturated fats and cholesterol in the diet while increasing fibre and complex carbohydrate.
- Losing weight. An improvement may occur if you lose as little as 2.5 kg to 5 kg .
- Being active on most, preferably all, days of the week.
When Should You Speak With A Doctor
It is important to note that there are a few symptoms of high cholesterol.
However, emergency symptoms are stroke or a heart attack that may be the only indicator of damage from high cholesterol.
This means that you should make sure that your doctor regularly monitors it.
Moreover, you should get your cholesterol levels checked with a blood test every 4 to 6 years.
Your doctor may also recommend more frequent screening if you live with any of the following:
- a history of heart condition
- high blood pressure
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What Do My Test Results Mean
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Results are given in milligrams per deciliter . Here are the ranges for total cholesterol in adults:
- Normal: Less than 200 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 200 to 239 mg/dL
- High: At or above 240 mg/dL
These are the adult ranges for LDL cholesterol:
- Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
- Near optimal: 100 to 129 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 130 to 159 mg/dL
- High: 160 to 189 mg/dL
- Very high: 190 mg/dL and higher
The above numbers are general guidelines, because actual goals depend on the number of risk factors you have for heart disease.
Your HDL cholesterol levels should be above 40 mg/dL. This type of fat is actually good for you because it lowers your risk of heart disease. The higher the number, the lower your risk. Sixty mg/dL or above is considered the level to protect you against heart disease.
High levels of triglycerides are linked with a higher heart disease risk. Here are the adult ranges:
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high: Above 500 mg/dL
Depending on your test results, your healthcare provider will decide whether you need lifestyle changes or medicines to lower your cholesterol.
When Should You See A Doctor
Because high triglyceride levels usually do not cause any symptoms, theyre typically spotted when a doctor orders a blood test that includes a lipid panel.
If you do not have high risk factors, including health conditions and some lifestyle factors, a doctor will order a lipid panel every few years to check cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If your lipid panel results show above normal triglyceride levels, a doctor may suggest lifestyle changes focused on diet and exercise. If diet and exercise do not have the desired effect, they may recommend medication such as statins or fibrates.
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Find Out Your Heart Age With The Heart Age Tool
Once you have your cholesterol results, you can work out your risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years using the NHS Heart Age Tool. You will get a more accurate result if you know your blood pressure numbers too. The heart age tool is designed for people aged 25 to 84.
Adults age 40-74 are also invited for NHS Health Checks which includes other simple tests to look at your heart health.
How Do Triglycerides Get Into The Blood
When we eat foods containing triglycerides, such as meat, dairy products, cooking oils and fats, they are absorbed by our intestines and packaged into parcels of fats and protein called chylomicrons . These carry the triglycerides in the blood stream to our tissues to be used for energy straight away, or stored for later.
The body also makes its own supply of triglycerides in the liver. This form is carried in a different type of lipoprotein known as VLDL cholesterol.
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Other Factors That Affect Blood Cholesterol
The CDC point outs that some health conditions and lifestyle factors can raise cholesterol levels. It says that type 2 diabetes, for example, raises LDL cholesterol levels, as does familial hypercholesterolemia.
The CDC also states that having a diet high in saturated fats and getting low levels of exercise may contribute to high cholesterol levels.In addition, it acknowledges that having family members with high cholesterol increases a persons risk.
The NIH recommends consulting a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise plan, but overall, it advises a person to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Having a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise can also bring down high cholesterol levels in children.
Generally, the earlier a person starts making these changes, the better for their cholesterol levels, as cholesterol builds up over time.
High cholesterol at any age increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These risks only increase over time.