How Does Cholesterol Cause Health Problems
When too much LDL cholesterol is in the bloodstream, it can stick to the inner walls of the blood vessels, particularly those that supply the brain and heart. Cholesterol can also bond with other molecules in the bloodstream before depositing on the inside of blood vessel walls.
Over time, these fatty deposits can narrow blood vessels and make them less flexible. As a result, it takes more force to push blood through them, which can raise blood pressure. When blood vessels narrow and become hard from plaque buildup, the condition is called atherosclerosis.
The condition is behind issues like coronary heart disease, carotid artery disease, and peripheral vascular disease. But narrowing arteries isn’t the only way cholesteroland the plaque buildup it can causeis detrimental to your health.
Chunks of plaque can also loosen and become stuck in, or even block, smaller blood vessels. This can reduce or prevent blood flow. As you can probably imagine, that’s not a good thing.
If tissues are starved of oxygen-rich blood, they can become damaged or destroyed. Plaque that clogs the arteries of the heart or brain can lead to a heart attack or stroke. And a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal, can develop if pieces of plaque block tiny blood vessels in the lungs.
Can I Test My Own Cholesterol At Home
Its better to have your cholesterol tested by a professional because taking blood and measuring cholesterol levels is a skilled job and your results will be affected by the way you do the test. Going to a health professional means you will get an accurate reading.
We dont recommend home sampling, but if you do decide to test your cholesterol at home, follow these simple steps to take your sample safely and get a more accurate result.;;
When Should My Cholesterol Levels Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- have a family history of early;cardiovascular disease
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition
- are overweight
You May Like: Is Calamari High In Protein
Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries ;
- transient ischaemic attack ; often known as a;”mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a;blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of;developing coronary heart disease;also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause;pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity;.
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.;
You May Like: Does Ketosis Cause High Cholesterol
Further Information And Support
For assessment and treatment of high cholesterol levels see a doctor. For ideas about how to lower high cholesterol levels a doctor or dietitian can assist.
Our Heart disease diet and Heart disease exercise;pages provide practical ideas and ways to get started with healthier lifestyles in general, including cholesterol reduction.
What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels For Women
Women typically have lower cholesterol levels than men, until they reach menopause. After menopause, womens LDL levels often rise and HDL levels drop. Here are the normal cholesterol levels for women :
- Total cholesterol: 125 mg/dL to 200 mg/dL
- Non-HDL cholesterol: less than 130 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: 50 mg/dL or higher
Don’t Miss: Is Bone Broth High In Cholesterol
Treating High Cholesterol In The Elderly
- Quit smoking: Higher cholesterol is one of the many negative effects of smoking. Nobody is ever too old to quit.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Leafy greens like cabbage are particularly good at lowering high cholesterol.
- Eat the right kind of fat: Avoiding red meat, high-fat dairy products and processed foods in favor of healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados can help seniors avoid saturated fat and trans fats, two of the biggest contributors to high cholesterol.
- Get more omega-3 fatty acids: This essential nutrient, found in salmon, tuna and flaxseed, can help raise good cholesterol. Its also available as a supplement.
- Exercise: Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a day like walking can help seniors lower their cholesterol.
- Take medication: Millions of Americans use statins to lower their LDL cholesterol. These drugs remove bad cholesterol from the blood efficiently, and with few side effects.
Nobody is ever too old to break a bad habit or start a good one. Making lifestyle changes and taking medication that treats high cholesterol can help seniors avoid serious health problems and continue to enjoy the golden years.;
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.
Don’t Miss: Does Tuna Have Good Or Bad Cholesterol
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.
Why Do We Need Cholesterol
Cholesterol is important for everyone. Your body needs it to perform essential duties like making hormones, producing vitamin D, and building cells. It is also made and used by the liver to make bile which helps your body digest food.
Cleveland Clinic explains that your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet your bodys needs. While cholesterol is essential, having too much can cause problems. High levels of cholesterol can lead to a condition called hypercholesterolemia and having levels too low can lead to a condition called hypocholesterolemia. Cholesterol levels that are too low are uncommon but it can happen.
Read Also: Are Mussels High In Cholesterol
You And Your Cholesterol Level
Many people think all cholesterol is inherently bad for health, which makes sense based on warnings from health authorities.
It’s why doctors field so many questions like “Is my cholesterol too high?” and “Can you give me a healthy cholesterol level by age chart?”
But not all cholesterol is bad. In truth, it’s an important substance that helps build new cells.
Cholesterol is also the precursor to, or a molecule that is later converted into, vitamin D, steroid hormones, and bile salts. Bile salts are compounds the gallbladder releases into the small intestine during digestion that help break down and absorb dietary fats.
So why does cholesterol have such a bad reputation? As the level of cholesterol circulating in someone’s blood increases, so does their risk of heart disease and heart events like a heart attack or stroke.
That’s why it is so important to monitor your cholesterol levels and work to keep them in a healthy range. Of course, to do that, you need to know how to monitor your levels and what good, borderline, and bad cholesterol levels mean.
Keep reading for the lowdown on cholesterol levels, including handy cholesterol level by age charts that’ll help you navigate the ideal targets for you.
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.
Read Also: Is Shrimp Bad For Your Cholesterol
How To Reduce Cholesterol Levels For Seniors
While diet and exercise play an important role in maintaining good heart health, so too does managing your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance created by our livers and present in some of the foods we eat. Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly. But high levels of cholesterol increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. High cholesterol is even linked to Alzheimers disease.
There are two types of cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is known as good cholesterol because it plays an important role in cell creation, digestion and hormone production. It also helps remove bad cholesterol from the body. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol because it can cause plaque buildup in the arteries. That buildup forces the heart to work harder as it pumps blood throughout the body, which can lead to heart disease.
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.
Recommended Reading: Does Tuna Have Good Or Bad Cholesterol
What Factors Affect Cholesterol Levels
A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels. They include:
- Diet: Saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in the food you eat increase cholesterol levels. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in your diet. This will help lower your blood cholesterol level. Saturated and trans fat have the most impact on blood cholesterol.
- Weight: In addition to being a risk factor for heart disease, being overweight can also increase your triglycerides. Losing weight may help lower your triglyceride levels and raise your HDL.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can lower total cholesterol levels. Exercise has the most effect on lowering triglycerides and raising HDL. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Age and sex: As we get older,cholesterol levels rise. Before menopause, women tend to have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, however, womens LDL levels tend to rise and HDL can drop.
- Heredity: Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
Better Predictor Than Ldl
In studies of patients with hypertriglyceridemia , it has been possible to establish a direct association between the values of non-HDL-C and the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, this correlation being better than that observed when evaluating LDL-C.
In the case of male patients with high levels of Non-HDL-C, they have twice the risk of death from cardiovascular disease than their counterparts with low levels, while in female patients, the risk of death was approximately two and a half times higher. This is of major importance, since high values of LDL-C, have lower risk predictive power, especially in women.
Also Check: Are Baked Potatoes High In Cholesterol
Treatments For High Cholesterol Levels
If your doctor determines that your cholesterol levels are borderline or too high, they may start you on a management plan to lower your levels. Ways to manage your cholesterol levels include:
Your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication, like statins, if you are at an increased heart disease risk. Statins are used as a preventive measure because they treat plaque buildup in your arteries.
Diet and lifestyle
According to Erin Michos, M.D., quoted in Johns Hopkins Medicine, diet and lifestyle are very important to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Reducing the amount of saturated fats you eat and exercising for at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week can help you lose weight and reduce your cholesterol levels.
Limit smoking and alcohol intake
If you smoke and your cholesterol levels are high, you are at greater risk for artery buildup which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you are able to, you should consider a plan to give up smoking. Limiting your alcohol consumption can also help lower your triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.
What Does A Cholesterol Check Involve
A cholesterol test involves a a simple blood test, this can be done in two ways: ;
You can eat and drink normally before your test unless your doctor asks you not to. If you have a sample taken with a needle and syringe, you might be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours beforehand, usually overnight.
Read Also: Is Bone Marrow High In Cholesterol
Your Test Results: A Preview
Your test results will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood . Your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are among numerous factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will also consider other risk factors, such as age, family history, smoking status, diabetes;and high blood pressure.
Lipid profile or lipid panel is a blood test that will give you results for your HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total blood cholesterol.
Watch an animation about cholesterol score.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
There are two main ways to lower your cholesterol:
- Heart-healthy lifestyle changes, which include:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples 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 .
- Managing stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
- Quitting smoking.Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, having more HDL can help to lower your LDL cholesterol.
- 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 medicines 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 should continue with the lifestyle changes.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Also Check: Are Egg Beaters Low In Cholesterol
When Should I Get Ldl Cholesterol Testing
LDL cholesterol testing may be used to assess your risk of cardiovascular disease or monitor changes in cholesterol over time.
Doctors will take factors such as age, family history, and other medical conditions when determining how often you should check your levels of LDL cholesterol. Examples of common screening recommendations are outlined below:
|With or without risk factors||Annually|
Having your cholesterol levels checked at regular intervals gives doctors a chance to notice any changes that could become harmful to your health. High or increasing cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, among other conditions.
Doctors may want to test your cholesterol levels more regularly if you or your family have a history of heart disease, smoking, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or a diet high in saturated fat.