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What Should Your Cholesterol Count Be

What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels For Teens And Children

Cholesterol levels. What should your numbers be? Dr. Merle Myerson at St. Luke’s Hospital in NYC

Certain risk factors can put a child at risk for having high cholesterol. This includes diabetes, obesity, or a family history of high cholesterol. In contrast, Healthline states that children who are physically active, eat a healthy diet, are not overweight, and dont have a family history are at a lower risk. Here are the normal cholesterol levels for teens and children :

  • Total cholesterol: less than 170 mg/dL
  • Non-HDL cholesterol: less than 120 mg/dL
  • LDL cholesterol: less than 110 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol: more than 45 mg/dL

Keep in mind, all children should have their cholesterol checked between the ages of 9 and 11 and then again at 17 and 21. That said, children who have risk factors for high cholesterol should have theirs checked at ages 2 and 8 and then again between ages 12 and 16.

What Can Affect My Ldl Level

Things that can affect your LDL level include

  • Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise
  • Weight. Being overweight tends to raise your LDL level, lower your HDL level, and increase your total cholesterol level
  • Physical Activity. A lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can raise your LDL level
  • Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL from your arteries, if you have less HDL, that can contribute to you having a higher LDL level.
  • Age and Sex. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
  • Genetics. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
  • Medicines. Certain medicines, including steroids, some blood pressure medicines, and HIV/AIDS medicines, can raise your LDL level.
  • Other medical conditions. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can cause a higher LDL level.
  • Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.

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

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You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood

Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:

  • Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
  • Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.

How Can I Lower My Ldl Level

What Should Your Cholesterol Really Be? Actually Everyone ...

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

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When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels

In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.

Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.

References

Medicines To Lower Your Cholesterol Level

Medicines called statins are most often used to lower cholesterol levels. There are other cholesterol-lowering medicines that your doctor might prescribe, like resins, fibrates, and niacin. If you need to take a medicine to lower your cholesterol level, your doctor will help you find the one that works best for you.

Estrogen replacement therapy lowers your bad cholesterol level and raises your good cholesterol level. However, studies have not shown that it lowers the risk of heart disease.

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How Often To Get Tested

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , most healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years.

Your risk factors also determine how often your cholesterol should be checked. Adults who have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity need more frequent readings, as do all adults as they age.

Children should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 20 years of age. If a child has a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or is overweight or obese, their pediatrician may recommend getting checked sooner and more often.

What Are Ldl And Hdl

Healthy Cholesterol: What Should Your Levels Be?

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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Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol

You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver; these absorb fat during digestion.

So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.

Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:

  • LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
  • Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
  • HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.

And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.

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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How Is High Cholesterol Treated

There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol , including lifestyle changes or medication, or both. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine which therapy is best for you.

Lifestyle modifications

Healthcare providers like to start with the least invasive treatments when possible, such as lifestyle changes. Youll be advised to:

  • Avoid tobacco. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways, and reducing your level of good cholesterol is one of them.
  • Change the way you eat. Limit the amount of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
  • Get more exercise. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, or about 30 minutes per day for most days of the week.
  • Keep a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to do this. Youll see results even before you reach your ideal weight. Losing even 10% of your body weight makes a difference in your cholesterol levels.
  • Reduce the effect of negative emotions. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress or other negative emotions.
  • Control blood sugar and blood pressure. Make sure you follow your healthcare providers instructions for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, and for keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.

Medications

  • Atorvastatin .
  • Simvastatin .
  • Pitavastatin .

How To Get Your Cholesterol Levels Checked

How much should be your cholesterol levels to prevent CHD ...

You can buy a test kit that will allow you to check your cholesterol levels at home, but they vary in how accurate they are. Kits that are approved by the FDA and say they’re traceable to a CDC program may be more accurate.

Given the lack of quality control on home health measurements like at-home testing kits, Dr. Fleg says, blood lipids should be measured by an accredited medical laboratory.

The AHA agrees, recommending that a primary care or family doctor assess blood lipid test results.

Getting an accurate cholesterol number is just one aspect of your overall cardiovascular health. You also have to understand what the number means for you personally.

Informed about your health history, family health history, and other risk factors, your doctor will be able to interpret the results better than a test kit. And by keeping track of all your cholesterol readings, your doctor will be able to catch any changes and advise you the best ways to address them.

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What Happens During A Cholesterol Test

The cholesterol test, or screening, requires a simple blood draw. You may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before your cholesterol test. Be sure to ask your doctor how to prepare for the test.

The cholesterol test checks your levels of:

  • Low-density lipoprotein or badcholesterol. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease;or stroke.
  • High-density lipoprotein or goodcholesterol. HDL is known as good cholesterol because high levels can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Total cholesterol, the total amount of cholesterol in your blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.

Hdl Cholesterol: ‘good’ Cholesterol

Not all cholesterol is bad. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher the HDL, the better. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce your risk for heart disease. Conversely, HDL levels of 40 mg/dL and lower are considered a high risk-factor for developing heart disease.

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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:

Demographic Group
With or without risk factorsAnnually

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.

What Is Bad Cholesterol

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Cholesterol moves in the body combined with proteins. This combination of cholesterol and proteins is called lipoproteins. The low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol is called bad cholesterol. High levels of this cholesterol increase risk for heart diseases and stroke.

When you have high levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, the LDL cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of the blood vessels forming a plaque. The continuous cholesterol build-up or a plaque narrows the inside of the blood vessels with time. The narrowed blood vessel hampers the blood supply to the concerned organ. Thus, when the plaque is present in the heart, it can cause angina or a heart attack. Plaque build-up in the brain can cause a stroke.

Another type of cholesterol is HDL; cholesterol. It is also called good;cholesterol as it absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from the body. HDL cholesterol, thus, can lower your risk for heart diseases and stroke.

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How To Read Your Lipid Panel

A report typically contains the following items, in this order:

  • Total cholesterol: An estimate of all the cholesterol in the blood . Thus, a higher total cholesterol may be due to high levels of HDL, which is good, or high levels of LDL, which is bad. So knowing the breakdown is important.
  • Triglycerides: A type of fat.
  • High-density lipoprotein : Good cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease.
  • Low-density lipoprotein : Bad cholesterol and a major contributor to clogged arteries.

Some reports also include:

  • Total cholesterol to HDL ratio: The amount of total cholesterol divided by HDL. This number is useful in helping doctors predict the risk of developing atherosclerosis .
  • Very low-density lipoprotein : Another type of bad cholesterol that builds up inside the arteries.

Total Blood Cholesterol

In general, doctors recommend that you try to keep this number under 200 mg/dL. Levels over 200 mg/dL — depending on the breakdown of LDL versus HDL — may mean you are at higher risk for heart disease.

  • Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL

Having a total cholesterol level over 240 mg/dL may double the risk of heart disease.

Low-density lipoprotein

Low-density lipoprotein is bad cholesterol. Think of the “L” in LDL as “lousy.” High LDL levels increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
  • Near optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
  • Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL
  • High: 160-189 mg/dL

High-Density Lipoprotein

Triglycerides

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