The Total Amount Of Cholesterol In Your Blood
Whats healthy? Government advice has moved away from giving absolute figures, but ideally your cholesterol should be be 5 mmol/L or less, or 4 mmol/L if youre at high risk of CVD, or you have high blood pressure, diabetes or have had a cardiovascular event.
What should I do? If your TC level is too high, you can help bring it down by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes, such as:
- Being more active.
- Cutting down on foods rich in saturated fats, such as butter, lard and full-fat dairy.
- Swapping fatty meats for lean meats, such as chicken.
- Eating more foods with healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
- Having meat-free days – try Quorn® or soya products instead.
- Eating more fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, especially oats and barley.
Including more foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols in your diet.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when you need to be tested again.
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 dont recommend getting a cholesterol test during pregnancy because your results wont 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 dont need to worry unnecessarily. Find out more about pregnancy and blood fats.
Cholesterol levels rise during the menopause
Women may also find their cholesterol levels rise during the menopause.
Does Age Make A Difference To Recommended Cholesterol Levels
No, recommended cholesterol levels do not change based on age. It was once thought that high cholesterol becomes less of a problem as one ages. However, there is now good evidence that lowering high cholesterol is of benefit even in the elderly.
Previously, there was also concern that some cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins may interfere with ones cognitive function and that this might be more of an issue in the elderly. This has now been debunked. Nevertheless, it is worth starting with a low dose and gradually increasing to avoid any potential side effects.
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Why Cholesterol Affects Women Differently
In general, women have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men because the female sex hormone estrogen seems to boost this good cholesterol. But, like so much else, everything changes at menopause. At this point, many women experience a change in their cholesterol levels total and LDL cholesterol rise and HDL cholesterol falls. This is why women who had favorable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with elevated cholesterol later in life. Of course, genetics and lifestyle factors can play big roles, too.
How Do Good And Bad Cholesterol Affect The Body
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the good cholesterol. The benefit of HDL lies in the fact that it carries bad cholesterol back to the liver. In doing so, it cleanses cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is the bad cholesterol. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol, the greater your risk of a heart attack. When the level of LDL cholesterol goes up, excess cholesterol can build up and stick to the walls of your arteries. This causes damage. The buildup is called plaque, and the formation of plaque can cause arteries to harden and narrow. This hardening is called atherosclerosis. It’s also known as hardening of the arteries. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot can form, suddenly blocking an artery. This causes a heart attack or stroke.
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How Often Should I Check My Cholesterol
The only way to check your cholesterol levels is with a blood test.
Its generally a good idea to check your cholesterol every few years or more frequently if you are known to have high cholesterol or another condition that puts you at increased risk of heart disease. Some people may like to check their cholesterol more often, especially if they are making lifestyle changes and want to track their progress.
Youll usually be offered a cholesterol test if you:
- Are aged between 40 and 74 its included every five years with the NHS health check
- Are at high risk of heart disease e.g., if you have a family history, youre overweight, you smoke, or you have diabetes
- Have been diagnosed with heart disease or other related illnesses like stroke or peripheral vascular disease
- Are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol its usually tested every year
- Have a close relative with familial hypercholesterolaemia
You can check your cholesterol levels at home with our Cholesterol Blood Test a simple finger-prick blood test.
Why High Cholesterol Matters
High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the U.S. High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and restricting blood flow. If some of this plaque breaks off and gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can block the artery and cut off blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in heart attack or stroke.
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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.
Good Cholesterol Vs Bad Cholesterol
In order to understand cholesterol ratios, it’s good to know a bit more about the different types of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is crucial for the body to function properly, according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. You may think that all cholesterol is “bad.” But the truth is that only some kinds of cholesterol are a health concern, and then only in high quantities.
Low-density lipoproteins are the so-called “bad” kind of cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association . If there is too much LDL in the bloodstream, it can combine with other substances like calcium and form deposits on the artery walls. These deposits called plaque narrow and stiffen the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis significantly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
High-density lipoproteins are the “good” kind of cholesterol, per the AHA. HDL moves through the bloodstream and picks up excess LDL particles before returning them to the liver for disposal. In this way, HDL helps prevent plaque buildup and heart disease.
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Can You Get Rid Of Cholesterol Deposits
Researchers are working on ways to eliminate plaque from coronary arteries. One method that has been proposed involves using combinations of medicines in healthy people aged 25 to 55 years. It is suggested that getting the levels of cholesterol down very low will allow arteries to clear up and heal up.
Several researchers believe that the way to reverse heart disease and prevent it in the first place is found in a whole-food, plant-based diet. Studies have been done that have shown that limiting nutrition to whole foods that are plant-based have been successful in reducing blood cholesterol and even, in some cases, lessening plaque buildup.
What Are The Risks Of High Total Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, it can build up in the artery walls, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain, and the rest of your body. These fatty deposits, known as plaques, can rupture and encourage the blood to clot. If a clot travels to the heart or brain it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Raised cholesterol increases your risk of:
- Transient ischaemic attacks often known as a mini-stroke
- Peripheral vascular disease pain, ulcers, and numbness in the legs and feet
PVD, if left untreated, can lead to serious and potentially fatal problems.
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Where Is The Cholesterol In Food From The Transformation Of Fats
But why does beef liver contain more than ten times the cholesterol that low fat milk contains?
Where is all this cholesterol in food coming from?
The thing that causes cholesterol to be present in your food is fat, the greasy, delicious thing that makes bacon, beef steak, and sausage so tempting and so terrible for your cholesterol levels.
Fat is harder for the body to process, and the body usually turns it into cholesterol to keep the bodys mechanisms greased. Just enough fat helps to oil the gears smoothly, but too much fat makes it impossible for the body to digest everything.
When the body cant digest all the unhealthy fats, it turns it into LDL cholesterol that causes the heart problems.
The unhealthy fats like trans fats and saturated fats go straight to your arteries, and you will create a lot of cholesterol by consuming these fats. Sugar can also cause cholesterol in food, as the sugar is converted by the body to fat before anything else is.
Those that eat lots of foods that are high in fat are guaranteed to be the ones that have the highest cholesterol levels, as those foods are being converted directly into cholesterol. The lipids in the fats combine with protein particles to produce lipoproteins , and thus they are turned into cholesterol by the body.
Another Type Of Fat Found In The Blood Mainly From The Food We Eat
Whats healthy? Less than 1.7 mmol/L ideally on a fasting sample, or less than 2.3 mmol/L on a non-fasting sample.
What should I do? Very high triglyceride levels can cause a painful condition called pancreatitis. People can have raised levels for many reasons, but the most common reasons are lifestyle-related:
- Being apple-shaped .
- Developing or having type 2 diabetes.
Excessive alcohol consumption.
You can keep your triglyceride levels low by losing weight, being more active and eating sensibly, especially by cutting back on alcohol, sugary foods and saturated fats, and eating more fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains.
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Are High Cholesterol Levels Dangerous
A high cholesterol level can be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. These devastating events happen when a cholesterol plaque ruptures. This causes blood to suddenly clot and block an artery in the heart or brain.
Blockages that prevent sufficient blood flow in the coronary arteries can lead to a form of chest pain called angina. Angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease. Symptoms usually occur with exertion and go away with rest.
If Your Ratio Of Triglycerides To Hdl Cholesterol Is High How Can You Lower It
One of the most powerful solutions Ive found for promoting a healthy triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio is an extract from the citrus bergamot orange grown in the Calabria area of Italy. Research has shown it helps to lower triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol levels. Another important benefit is that it helps to reduce blood glucose levels.
The research that turned me on to this nutrient was conducted by Italian pharmacobiologists in 2011. In their trial, they documented significant reductions in triglycerides and blood sugar, along with a solid boost for the group taking the extract from the citrus bergamot orange. Plus, lifestyle changes can also help your triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio.
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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.
About Your Cholesterol Result
A cholesterol test can measure:
- total cholesterol the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood, including both “good” and “bad” cholesterol
- good cholesterol this makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- bad cholesterol this makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- triglycerides a fatty substance similar to bad cholesterol
When you get your result, you may just be told your total cholesterol.
You might be able to get separate results for your good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Ask your doctor or nurse.
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How Can You Naturally Lower Tg And Increase Hdl Levels
The most effective ways to improve your TG/HDL are:
- Lose weight. Body fat used to be considered as an inert energy storage tissue. Now we know it is an endocrine tissue that releases chemicals that cause insulin resistance, prediabetes, and CV risk .
- Eat fewer carbs. Get into a lower carbohydrate diet .
- Exercise. Exercise increases HDL levels and lowers TG levels .
- Take niacin. It is one of the few supplements that lowers TG , increases HDL cholesterol levels , and lowers LDL cholesterol levels .
- Get dietary and supplemental omega-3s .
How To Lower Cholesterol: Low
Low-carbohydrate diets may help improve HDL cholesterol levels. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study that found while both low-fat and low-carb dieters lost weight over the two-year study period, low-carb dieters also improved their HDL cholesterol levels. The problem with low-carb diets is that they may be difficult to adhere to. Consult your doctor about the best healthy eating plan to manage your cholesterol.
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Fortunately, in most cases, cholesterol can be lowered by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
For people with inherited conditions, like familial hypercholesterolaemia, it may be difficult to lower cholesterol levels into the normal range with lifestyle changes alone. You may be advised to take cholesterol-lowering medication. However, many of these suggestions will still be beneficial to overall health alongside any medication.
Four top tips to reduce cholesterol:
Try the following meal substitutions to lower your cholesterol:
|Meat pies, sausages, bacon, fatty meat
|Turkey, lean chicken, and oily fish
|Butter, lard, and ghee
Your Total Cholesterol Figure Divided By The Hdl
Whats healthy? The lower this figure, the better. Ideally 4.5, while above 6 is considered high risk.
What should I do? This reading will help your GP work out whether your overall cholesterol levels are healthy, which in turn helps them calculate your risk of CVD – another reason why its important to have full cholesterol results, not just TC. It could be high if your TC, LDL-C and non-HDL cholesterol levels are too high, or if your HDL-C is too low, or a combination of both. Maintaining a healthy TC:HDL ratio long-term can help reduce your risk of CVD in future. You can do this by following the advice above.
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What Are The Risks Of A High Ratio
The higher your cholesterol ratio is, the greater your risk of heart disease. A high ratio is usually due to too high LDL and/or VLDL cholesterol, or low HDL cholesterol. Both the body and heart can be affected when cholesterol levels are not at normal levels.
Too much LDL cholesterol in your blood can cause a type of heart disease called atherosclerosis. This is a condition in which the flow of blood to the heart muscle is slowed, and it can even stop blood from getting to the heart altogether, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The American Heart Association Recommends
All adults age 20 or older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. If certain factors put you at high risk, or if you already have heart disease, your doctor may ask you to check it more often. Work with your doctor to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke and create a plan to reduce your risk.
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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
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