How Often Do I Need To Get My Cholesterol Checked
The general recommendation is to get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6;years. Some people may need to get their cholesterol checked more or less often depending on their risk of heart disease.
For example, high cholesterol can run in families. If someone in your family has high cholesterol or takes medicine to control;cholesterol, you might need to get tested more often.;Talk to your doctor about whats best for you.
Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
Cholesterol And Heart Disease: Understanding The Connection
For years, it had been believed that theres more or less a straight line between cholesterol and heart disease but recent research suggests that this relationship may be more complex.
A Minneapolis Heart Foundation study, published in April 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that many people who have heart attacks donthave high cholesterol. The link between cholesterol and heart disease is weak, says Dr. Roberts, who places a large portion of the blame for the persistence of that link on pharmaceutical advertising for statin drugs. Statins dolower cholesterol levels, she says, but atherosclerosis still progresses due to factors like age, poor diet, smoking, and so on.
In addition, a review of studies of cholesterol and cardiovascular disease published in August 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that no rigorous connection could be drawn between dietary cholesterol intake and the risk of CVD.
In contrast, the results of long-term research, published in September 2017 in the journal Circulation, concluded that statin use in men with high LDL cholesterol who had no other risk factors for heart disease reduced their rates of coronary heart disease death, cardiovascular death, and all-cause mortality by 28 percent over 20 years.
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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.
What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol moves throughout the body carried by lipoproteins in the blood. These lipoproteins include:
- Low-density lipoprotein is one of the two main lipoproteins. LDL is often called the bad cholesterol.
- High-density lipoprotein is the other main lipoprotein. HDL is often called the good cholesterol.
- Very-low-density lipoproteins are particles in the blood that carry triglycerides.
Puree Fruits And Veggies For Baking
Pureed fruits or vegetables can be used in place of oil in muffin, cookie, cake and snack bar recipes to give your treats an extra healthy boost. For many recipes, use the specified amount of puree instead of oil. Check the mixs package or your cookbooks substitutions page for other conversions. You can:
- Use applesauce in spice muffins or oatmeal cookies.
- Include bananas in breads and muffins.
- Try zucchini in brownies.
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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What Complications Are Possible If You Dont Treat High Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood
The main reason to treat high cholesterol is to prevent or treat coronary heart disease , also called coronary artery disease or CAD. CHD happens when heart is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to function well and kills more people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. CHD usually refers to the large arteries, but there is also a condition called coronary microvascular disease that affects the small vessels and causes damage.
Talk To Your Doctor About Medications
Sometimes medications are needed to get cholesterol levels under control.
For some people, no matter how meticulous they are with their diet, and no matter how much time they spend in the gym, their cholesterol levels are going to be problematic, says Dr. Di Giorgio.
Most cholesterol medications lower LDL rather than raise HDL levels.
The combination of LDL-lowering medications and a healthy lifestyle will cause HDL to naturally rise.
Statins are the most common go-to medications for cholesterol management, according to the American Heart Association. They work by preventing cholesterol from forming in the liver. This, in turn, reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.
If statins fail to lower LDL cholesterol to target range, doctors will look to non-statin medications.
Ezetimibe is the most commonly used non-statin agent, and it works to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestines. Another option are newer, injectable medications called PCSK9 inhibitors.
The drug niacin, or vitamin B3, can raise HDL when taken at higher doses. However, it can also cause unpleasant side effects, including whats called a niacin flush.
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How Can A High Ldl Level Raise My Risk Of Coronary Artery Disease And Other Diseases
If you have a high LDL level, this means that you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. This extra LDL, along with other substances, forms plaque. The plaque builds up in your arteries; this is a condition called atherosclerosis.
Coronary artery disease happens when the plaque buildup is in the arteries of your heart. It causes the arteries to become hardened and narrowed, which slows down or blocks the blood flow to your heart. Since your blood carries oxygen to your heart, this means that your heart may not be able to get enough oxygen. This can cause angina , or if the blood flow is completely blocked, a heart attack.
How Low Is Too Low
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in your blood. In the right amounts, it helps keep you healthy. You have two types of it in your bloodstream.
- Low-density lipoprotein is âbadâ cholesterol that can build up in the walls of your arteries over time. Most of the cholesterol in your body is made up of this type.
- High-density lipoprotein is âgoodâ cholesterol that helps remove the âbadâ kind from your bloodstream.
- Your ideal total cholesterol level should be around 150. Your LDL levels should be around 100 mg/dL. This range helps put you at a low risk of heart disease.
- Less than 120 mg/dL total cholesterol or an LDL level less than 50 mg/dL is very low.
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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
Goals For Your Cholesterol Levels
It’s best to keep your total cholesterol level below 200. Women of any age should have an HDL level of 40 or higher.
If you already have heart disease or diabetes, or your doctor estimates that your 10-year risk of heart disease is 20 percent or higher, try to keep your LDL level below 100.
If you do not have heart disease or diabetes, but you have two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL cholesterol level below 130. Major risk factors are age over 55; cigarette smoking; high blood pressure; low HDL ; a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65.
If you have fewer than two major risk factors, try to keep your LDL level below 160.
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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
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.
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What Are The Critical Numbers
Unfortunately, standard cholesterol tests you might get at a physical dont contain the level of detail that would be helpful, such as LDL particle testing. Advanced lipoprotein testing that produces a vertical auto profile is sometimes available, though insurance often does not cover it. However, Bikman says we can use a poor mans method by doing some math with our TG and LDL numbers.;
Hyman recommends the following general guidelines in his ebook, How to Work with Your Doctor to Get What You Need:
- Total cholesterol < 180 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol/HDL ratio < 3.0
- Triglyceride to HDL ratio < 4
Use Alcohol In Moderation
When used in moderation, the ethanol in alcoholic drinks increases HDL and reduces the risk of heart disease.
A study of 18 adult women found that drinking 24 grams of alcohol from white wine daily improved HDL by 5%, compared to drinking equal amounts of white grape juice .
Alcohol also improves reverse cholesterol transport, meaning cholesterol is removed from blood and vessel walls and taken back to the liver. This reduces the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease .
While moderate alcohol intake reduces heart disease risk, too much alcohol harms the liver and increases the risk of dependence. The recommended limit is two drinks daily for men and one for women .
12 drinks per day may improve HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of clogged arteries. However, heavier alcohol use increases heart disease risk and harms the liver.
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Eat A Variety Of Healthy Proteins
The best choices of protein are fish and seafood, legumes , nuts and seeds. You can eat smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry but limit red meat to 1-3 times a week.
Flavour foods with herbs and spices rather than salt, and avoid processed foods as these contain a lot of salt too. Salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
Add These Foods To Lower Ldl Cholesterol
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
1. Oats.;An easy first step to lowering your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber.
2. Barley and other whole grains.;Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
3. Beans.;Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
4. Eggplant and okra.;These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
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Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people dont discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.