What Are Cholesterol Levels
- LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because too much of it can build up in your arteries and form plaques, which increases the risk of heart disease .
- HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and excreted.
Since your total cholesterol is a combination of your LDL cholesterol and your HDL cholesterol, ideally you want to keep your LDL levels low and your HDL levels high. There are many factors that can influence your cholesterol, including, diet, exercise, weight, genetics, and other health conditions.
Why Cholesterol Matters For Women
Erin Donnelly Michos, M.D., M.H.S.
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.
Healthy Cholesterol Numbers By Age
It’s not just about how much HDL a person has. There are several other measurements clinicians use to assess a person’s cholesterol and corresponding health risks.
Non-HDL levels are a person’s total cholesterol minus their HDL level. This is not, however, equal to a person’s LDL level. As mentioned, there are a few other types of cholesterol besides HDL and LDL. Though they play a more minor role in heart health, they are still important to measure when it comes to risk assessment. According to the Mayo Clinic, a non-HDL measurement appears to be a better risk predictor than simply measuring LDL levels.
Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter . The following are healthy cholesterol numbers by age for men and women, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
Cholesterol Levels by Age Chart
Anyone age 19 and younger
Men age 20 or older
Women age 20 or older
50 mg/dL or higher
As you can see, the difference between healthy cholesterol levels for men and women over 20 years old comes down to HDL cholesterol: Women have a slightly higher range for healthy HDL.
Cholesterol levels do tend to increase as a person gets older. But healthy cholesterol levels remain the same.
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What Are ‘normal’ Cholesterol Levels
The only way to know your cholesterol levels is through a blood test. You need to know your total cholesterol , as well as HDL and LDL. Triglycerides are another type of fat, related to, but different from cholesterol. High levels of triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. Here are what the numbers mean:
- Less than 200 is desirable
- Between 200 and 239 is borderline high
- From 240 up is considered high
- Less than 100 is optimal
- Between 100 and 129 is almost optimal
- Between 130 and 159 is borderline high
- Between 160 and 189 is considered high
- And 190 and above is deemed to be very high
- 60 and above is optimal
- Less than 40 for men is considered low
- Less than 50 for women is considered low
- Avoid full-fat dairy products. Instead, opt for skim milk, lower fat cheese, lower fat yogurt and trans-fat free spreads.
- Substitute heart healthy plant oils for butter and lard.
- Eat lean proteins: fish, skinless chicken, and lean meats. Avoid marbled meats and bacon.
- Body weight: Losing weight can help lower cholesterol. Regular exercise can increase HDL and lower LDL . Thirty minutes per day can have healthy benefits.
- Smoking: Dont do it.
Biology: We cant control
- Age: As we all age, cholesterol rises.
- Gender: After menopause, women are at greater risk for higher cholesterol.
- Heredity : Your genes can determine how much cholesterol your liver produces.
- Diabetes: This disease can alter the balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol.
What Is A Cholesterol Test Used For
A cholesterol test is a useful tool to assess the risk of heart disease including heart attack and stroke.
The test is used to measure and analyze the amount of fats in the blood. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, treatment can be started to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
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Affect Of Age Over Ldl
Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age so taking precautions with age is essential for food health. Several years of unmanaged cholesterol levels get uncontrollable and even untreatable at times.
Children are usually less likely to have high levels of cholesterol unless they are born with some anomaly or particular heart disease. Otherwise getting cholesterol levels checked just once or twice before they reach the age of 18 is more than enough.
How Ldl Impacts Total Cholesterol
Physiologically speaking, LDL represents a majority of your cholesterol however, as noted, HDL and triglycerides are also present in significant amounts. Total cholesterol levelswhile not as clinically significant for isolated heart and circulation issuesgive a decent glimpse of cardiovascular health.
So how does LDL impact total cholesterol levels? Total cholesterol is a composite score calculated by adding up LDL and HDL levels with 20% of the triglyceride score. Normal levels of this type are less than 170 mg/dL for those under 20, and between 125 and 200 mg/dL for adults. Forty percent of that score is determined by LDL, which is also a significant measure in its own right.
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What Is Optimal Ldl Level
4.9/5levelsLDL cholesterol levelsLevelsfull answer
According to Michos, an ideal LDL cholesterol level should be less than 100 mg/dl, and a woman’s HDL cholesterol level ideally should be greater than 50 mg/dl. Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl.
One may also ask, what is high LDL cholesterol? LDL and HDL are two types of lipoproteins. They are a combination of fat and protein. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins.
Moreover, what is the normal range for HDL and LDL?
Men age 20 or older:
|Type of Cholesterol|
|40mg/dL or higher|
Is LDL 131 bad?
Your LDL cholesterol number is: Optimal if it is less than 100. Near optimal/above optimal if it is 100-129. Borderline high if it is 130-159.
What Are Ldl And Hdl
LDL and HDL are two types of lipoproteins. They are a combination of fat and protein. The lipids need to be attached to the proteins so they can move through the blood. LDL and HDL have different purposes:
- LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries.
- HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.
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Whats The Optimal Cholesterol Level
Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on December 13, 2016
No matter where we live, how old we are or what we look like, health researchers from the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health have discovered that 90% of the chance of having a first heart attack can be attributed to nine modifiable risk factors. The nine factors that could save our lives include: smoking, too much bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, abdominal obesity, stress, a lack of daily fruit and veggie consumption, as well as a lack of daily exercise.
Dr. William Clifford Roberts, Executive Director of Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute and long-time Editor in Chief of the American Journal of Cardiology, is convinced, however, that atherosclerosis has a single causenamely cholesteroland that the other so-called atherosclerotic risk factors are only contributory at most. In other words, we could be stressed, overweight, smoking, diabetic couch potatoes, but if our cholesterol is low enough, there may just not be enough cholesterol in our blood stream to infiltrate our artery walls and trigger the disease. Thus, the only absolute prerequisite for a fatal or nonfatal atherosclerotic event like a heart attack is an elevated cholesterol level.
Normal cholesterol levels may be fatal cholesterol levels.
Its imperative for everyone to understand Dr. Roses sick population concept, which I introduced in When Low Risk Means High Risk.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Who Should Get One How Often
Everyone should get their cholesterol checked regularly. How often depends on age and certain health risk factors.
An adult with average risk of heart disease should get their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years starting at age 20.
Some adults need to test their cholesterol more regularly. Those adults include the following individuals:
- those with a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol
- anyone with a previously high cholesterol test
recommend testing a childs cholesterol levels once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21.
Cholesterol testing is generally avoided during puberty because hormones can alter the results of the tests.
Most of the time, cholesterol tests require fasting, which means no food or drink other than water for up to 12 hours prior to the test.
Because of this requirement, most people choose to have their cholesterol test done in the morning.
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Can Ldl Cholesterol Levels Be Too Low
There is no medically-established LDL level that’s too low however, scores of 40 mg/dL or below have been associated with depression, anxiety, and stroke. Very low levels are also a hallmark of familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, a genetic disorder that causes problems with fat absorption and liver health, while leading to vitamin deficiencies.
What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the cells in your body. Cholesterol is found in some foods, like meat and dairy products. Your liver is responsible for making cholesterol. Your body needs it to function properly. There are two types of cholesterol high-density lipoprotein , or good cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein , or bad cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.
The total cholesterol in your body is the amount of cholesterol in your blood. It consists of both LDL and HDL cholesterol. The good cholesterol, HDL, helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. The bad cholesterol, LDL, is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in your arteries. Too much LDL can put you at risk for a stroke, heart attack, or other heart problems.
Cholesterol levels vary by age, weight, and gender. As you age, your body will produce more cholesterol. As an adult, you should check your cholesterol levels every four to six years to make sure youre in a healthy range.
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How Can I Lower My Ldl Level
There are two main ways to lower your LDL cholesterol:
- Therapeutic lifestyle changes . TLC includes three parts:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
- Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
- Drug Treatment. If lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. The medicines work in different ways and can have different side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which one is right for you. While you are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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.
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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:
Are Test Results Accurate
While no test is always accurate, measurements of blood cholesterol are an effective tool for estimating your risk of cardiovascular disease. Various factors can affect the accuracy of a cholesterol test:
- Direct vs calculated testing: While calculated LDL cholesterol levels are sufficient in most cases, direct testing provides more accurate results in patients with elevated triglyceride levels. Patients who may have elevated triglyceride levels include those diagnosed with type II diabetes or obesity, patients with a history of considerable alcohol intake, and patients taking medication to increase triglycerides.
- Fasting: In most cases, a lipid profile requires fasting. Eating within 8-12 hours before a lipid panel may increase the level of triglycerides in your bloodstream. Because this increased level of triglycerides could affect the accuracy of calculated LDL cholesterol values, your doctor may request that you refrain from eating prior to your blood draw.
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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.