How Often Should You Test Your Cholesterol
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Heart Association recommend that men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 get tested every one to two years.
The test for non-HDL cholesterol isn’t usually part of screening for your total cholesterol, but your healthcare provider may ask you to check these levels if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other risk factors for heart disease.
Measure Your Ldl And Other Blood Lipids
Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years through a blood test. The guidelines recommend you have a complete “lipoprotein profile” that measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood stream. The test should be performed after fasting.
How To Lower Ldl Cholesterol
Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower high LDL. A trial of eating a low-fat diet, regular aerobic activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and smaller waist circumference is an appropriate first step. It is best to set a timeline to achieve your goals with your doctor. In some cases, if those lifestyle changes are not enough, your physician may suggest a cholesterol lowering medication, such as a statin. If you are considering over-the-counter herbal or ayurvedic medications for cholesterol, please discuss those with your physician first as well.
Rarely, very high LDL is genetic and passed down in families. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia and is caused by a genetic mutation that decreases the livers ability to clear excess cholesterol. This condition can lead to very high LDL levels, and heart attack or stroke at a young age in multiple generations. Those individuals may require special medical treatment for prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Remember, knowledge is the first step. If you dont know your cholesterol levels, get tested. That will give you and your physician a starting point for lifestyle changes and medications if needed. In the meantime, adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, and do it with friends and family no matter their ages. Theres no time like the present to prevent heart disease.
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High Ldl Cholesterol Diagnosis
A blood test can check your LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol levels. It also measures triglycerides, a type of fat that stores extra energy from your diet. High triglyceride levels can make you more likely to have heart problems.
Experts recommend testing every 4 to 6 years. Youâll probably need it more often if you have heart disease or diabetes, or if high cholesterol runs in your family.
Lower numbers are better when it comes to LDL cholesterol test results. The general guidelines for adults in the United States are:
- Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter : Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL: High
- 190 mg/dL and above: Very high
If you have a condition like heart disease or diabetes, your doctor might recommend an LDL target of 70 mg/dL or below.
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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Going Beyond Total Cholesterol
You should also be paying attention to these subcategories of cholesterol including LDL and HDL. For the man who has a total cholesterol value of 200 and an HDL of 20, resulting in a ratio of 10.
Estimates of heart disease risk typically combine data for both men and women, and a ratio of greater than 4.5 indicates a greater risk of heart disease. This individual, then, has a high risk for heart disease even though his total cholesterol falls within the range recommended by public health officials which is 200 milligrams per deciliter or lower.
A very good friend of mine is a cardiovascular nurse educator for a big metropolitan hospital in Houston, Professor Anding said. She reports that the average person having a heart attack at her hospital has a total cholesterol value of 210.
Although a total cholesterol of 210 is only considered borderline high according to national recommendations, an individuals HDL might be much lower than the minimum recommended values, putting them at serious risk for heart disease.
The key point here is you dont just get your total cholesterol done because you can be lulled into a false sense of security, Professor Anding said. Get the lipid profile. The lipid profile is going to give you all the spokes to that umbrella.
What You Need To Know Before The Test
Before going for a blood test, examination or procedure, it is always a good idea for you to have a complete list of all prescription and over the counter medications and/or natural products you may be taking. If you are unsure or have any questions, your pharmacist will be able to provide you with additional information.
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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 body’s 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:
What Are Normal Levels Of Cholesterol
Normal levels of cholesterol are different depending on your age and sex. These guidelines show desirable total, non-HDL,LDL and HDL levels by age and sex.
Table 1: Target cholesterol levels by age and sex
|Age and sex|
People aged 19 years and younger Men aged 20 years and olderWomen aged 20 years and older
The table above spells out the numbers for normal cholesterol levels. The table below shows you cholesterol levels that are higher than normal. High cholesterol numbers vary by age group and sex, and may be different for those who have heart disease. These guidelines represent high cholesterol numbers for those who do not have heart disease.
Table 2: High total, non-HDL and LDL cholesterol levels by age and sex
|Age and sex|
|People aged 19 years and younger|
Borderline: 170-199 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL
Borderline: 120-144 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 145 mg/dL
Borderline: 110-129 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 130 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL
Near optimal or above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL
Very high: Greater than 189 mg/dL
High: Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL
Near optimal or above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL
Very high: Greater than 189 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol levels
If you do not have heart disease or blood vessel disease, and you are not at high risk for developing heart disease, the optimal number is less than 100 mg/dL.
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Dangers Of High Cholesterol And Diabetes
There is an increased risk for cardiovascular disease with diabetes. Dyslipidemia or problems with cholesterol compound the problems presented by high blood glucose. In other words, its a double whammy. A little further along in this article, we will talk about diabetes as an actual risk factor for heart disease.
What Does An Abnormal Test Result Mean
If the result is too highTotal cholesterol and LDL: high levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease .
LDL levels may be elevated for various reasons, including :
HDL: high levels are a good thing. Physical activity, quitting smoking, weight loss and moderate alcohol intake all increase HDL.
If the result is lowLDL and total cholesterol: it is desirable to have a low result, since it reduces the risk of suffering from a cardiovascular disease. Some factors can, however, lead to low cholesterol levels:
- Chronic anemia
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What Kind Of Test Measures Cholesterol
Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every five years. Your healthcare provider will order a blood test that will indicate how much cholesterol is carried in your bloodstream. This test will give your cholesterol levels. Your provider might also order what is called a lipid panel or a lipid profile. The panel gives you the following numbers:
- Total cholesterol.
- Non-HDL cholesterol.
- Ratio between cholesterol and HDL.
There are advanced tests that break down the size and shapes of LDL cholesterol levels, and also give the LDL particle number, but those are not normally ordered. Some test makers say that the more advanced tests are better at indicating who is at risk for heart disease, but most providers still feel that the usual tests are adequate.
Mechanism Responsible For Changes In Lipoprotein Concentrations
The active compound in soy and the mechanism responsible for the LDL cholesterol-lowering and HDL cholesterol-increasing action of soy are still unknown. One reason for the lack of any doseresponse relation between soy-associated isoflavones and LDL cholesterol concentrations may be differences between individuals in the capacity of their intestinal flora to produce equol from daidzein, one of the soy-associated isoflavones. Approximately, one-third of the population are good equol producers . Equol is an isoflavonoid that is well absorbed and possesses significant oestrogenic activity having affinity for both oestrogen receptor and . showed in a crossover trial that only in the eight equol producers, LDL cholesterol concentrations were significantly decreased upon replacing dairy products by soy-based milk or yoghurt, whereas in the 18 poor-equol producers, there were no significant changes.
Another reason may be that there are several other soy compounds that may affect blood cholesterol concentrations. For example, there may be a direct protein or peptide effect on blood cholesterol concentrations . In addition, there are several other components associated with soy protein, such as trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid and saponins , however, their effects are not well elucidated yet.
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What Does Hdl Cholesterol Do
HDL clears from the body via the liver. HDL may therefore prevent the buildup of plaque, protect your arteries, and protect you from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. It is considered the good cholesterol, and higher levels are better. A good goal to aim for is higher than 55 mg/dL for women and 45 mg/dL for men. The higher your HDL cholesterol numbers, the lower your risk is for heart disease, vascular disease, and stroke.
Keep Your Cholesterol Counts Under Control
Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol is manageable. Medication is key, along with eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and getting regular exercise.
The experts at the USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute can help you understand your count and give you the support you need to maintain cholesterol levels needed for a healthy heart. Request an appointment today or call .
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How Can High/bad Cholesterol Be Prevented In Diabetes
With lifestyle changes and intensive statin therapy, we can significantly affect the rate of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. Even with LDL-C levels at borderline high and not greater than 160 mg/dl in most diabetics, these borderline numbers have been shown to significantly affect heart health in people with diabetes.
List Of Statin Drugs To Lower Cholesterol
The doctor may prescribe one of the following medications to help lower cholesterol:
The consensus has been that heart benefits are greater than diabetes risk.
So should I take statins?
If you want to reduce your risk for heart disease, then you should take statins. Currently, statin use is recommended by the American Diabetes Association for people with diabetes who have high cholesterol. Some people stop taking statins due to adverse side effects. Talk with your doctor before stopping any of your medicines. You shouldnt consume grapefruit if you take statins, as grapefruits increase uptake, and may increase side effects. You will want to avoid fibrates, warfarin , some antibiotics, and some HIV medicines. Talk to your pharmacist to see if any drugs you are taking might interact with statins.
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The Relationship Between Ldl And Vldl Cholesterol
By | Submitted On June 11, 2010
The human body produces five distinct groups of lipoproteins that enable the transportation of lipids such as triglycerides and cholesterol throughout the body. These five categories of lipoproteins are chylomicrons, VLDL, IDL, HDL, and LDL. While HDL is often touted as the “good cholesterol”, because of its higher concentration of protein and lower concentration of fats, LDL is often referred to as the “bad cholesterol”, due to its considerably higher concentration of fat rather than protein. The lipoprotein VLDL, , likewise posses an even higher concentration of fat than that of LDL, and is often used only to calculate the eventual concentration of LDL.
Previously, determining LDL cholesterol levels was done via a very lengthy and laborious process known as ultracentrifugation of serum. Today, by utilizing the information we known about the concentrations of VLDL within the body, we are able to determine the levels of LDL through a much faster and less labor intensive process by way of a “Friedwald Equation”. This equation is based on the fact that the fat concentration of VLDL is at a rate of approximately 5 times more than its concentration of proteins.
Total Cholesterol = LDL cholesterol + HDL cholesterol +VLDL cholesterol
For more information about natural ways to control LDL and VLDL cholesterol please visit
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.
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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.