Who Should 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
- are over the age of 40 people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
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.
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.
Hdl Versus Ldl Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . Lipoproteins are made of fat and proteins. Cholesterol moves through your body while inside lipoproteins.
HDL is known as good cholesterol because it transports cholesterol to your liver to be expelled from your body. HDL helps rid your body of excess cholesterol so its less likely to end up in your arteries.
LDL is called bad cholesterol because it takes cholesterol to your arteries, where it may collect in artery walls. Too much cholesterol in your arteries may lead to a buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis. This can increase the risk of blood clots in your arteries. If a blood clot breaks away and blocks an artery in your heart or brain, you may have a stroke or heart attack.
Plaque buildup may also reduce blood flow and oxygen to major organs. Oxygen deprivation to your organs or arteries may lead to kidney disease or peripheral arterial disease, in addition to a heart attack or stroke.
Centers for Disease Control , over 31 percent of Americans have high LDL cholesterol. You may not even know it because high cholesterol doesnt cause noticeable symptoms.
The only way to find out if your cholesterol is high is through a blood test that measures cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter of blood . When you get your cholesterol numbers checked, youll receive results for:
To treat high cholesterol, doctors often recommend these lifestyle changes:
Read Also: How To Reduce Hdl Cholesterol
Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.
Plant Sterols Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods including sunflower and canola seeds, vegetable oils and in nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Some margarine and milks have concentrated plant sterols added to them. Margarines enriched with plant sterolslower LDL cholesterol in most people if the correct amount is eaten .
Also Check: How Fast Can Cholesterol Levels Rise
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Hyperlipidemia
Even children can get their blood checked for high cholesterol, especially if someone in the childs family had a heart attack, stroke or high cholesterol. Children and young adults can get checked every five years.
Once you reach middle age, you should have your cholesterol checked every year or two. Your healthcare provider can help you decide how often you should have a hyperlipidemia screening.
Good Cholesterol Is A Complex Measure
While the cholesterol-carrying function of HDL is important, its not the only way HDL helps your body function. HDL also alters the chemical composition of LDL, preventing it from becoming oxidized, Harvard Medical School reported in 2019. That prevents damage to the arteries and lowers inflammation.
In general, having more HDL is often associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But too much HDL can also cause an inflammatory response in your immune cells, according to a 2016 study in the journal Cell Metabolism. That response can counter its usual anti-inflammatory properties. The upshot is that HDLs function isnt so clear-cut as being good, rather, its benefit to the body depends on a balance between its positive and negative effects.
To further complicate matters, a separate report from Harvard Medical School suggests that HDL might, in the end, be more of a bystander than an agent of good. It might simply be a marker of your cholesterol level, rather than having a significant influence on the body.
In fact, the American Heart Association no longer recommends a specific range for HDL and LDL cholesterol instead, they look at cholesterol as part of your entire heart health.
The takeaway, if youre managing cholesterol, is not to put too much stake into one number. Healthy diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes can boost your heart health regardless of the precise amount of good cholesterol in your body.
Recommended Reading: How To Reduce Ldl Cholesterol Naturally
How Do You Prepare For A Cholesterol Test
In most cases, youll need to fast for nine to 12 hours before the test. Make sure you tell the person drawing your blood how long it has been since you ate or drank anything that wasnt water.
There are some cases when a cholesterol test is done without fasting. This is true for tests done at health screenings and may be true for people younger than 20 or for people who are unable to fast.
Some medical societies believe that fasting is not necessary to get a true picture of lipid levels in the blood, while other associations stand by the belief that fasting gives a better idea of a persons heart disease risk. You should be clear on whether or not you need to fast, and for how long, before you go for the blood test.
You May Like: Blue Crab Cholesterol
Why Do We Need Cholesterol
There is cholesterol in every cell in your body. It plays vital roles in how your body works, and it’s especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
- Its part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your cells.
- Its used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
- Its used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat.
Read Also: Is Pasta Good For Cholesterol
How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body
Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About My Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. While some risk factors for cholesterol, such as age and heredity, are beyond your control, there are actions you can take to lower your LDL levels and reduce your risk, including:
- Eating a healthy diet. Reducing or avoiding foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce the cholesterol levels in your blood.
- Losing weight. Being overweight can increase your cholesterol and risk for heart disease.
- Staying active. Regular exercise may help lower your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your HDL cholesterol levels. It may also help you lose weight.
Talk to your health care provider before making any major change in your diet or exercise routine.
Recommended Reading: How Many Calories In A Gram Of Cholesterol
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.
Read Also: Womens Ldl Cholesterol Level
Featurehealth Matters: The Truth About Red Meat
Researchers said that the findings may not affect most people who aren’t at high risk for heart disease. When participants’ diets were low in saturated fat, the rise in LDL was minimal regardless of whether they ate chicken or lean red meat. But for the person actively trying to bring down high levels of LDL cholesterol, researchers said, it may be worth cutting back on both red and white meats, and relying more on plant proteins.
Red meat is a source of high-quality protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B12, but most nutritionists agree that it is best to choose a lean cut in a modest portion for optimal health benefits. The positives of having red or white meat can be canceled out if too much saturated fat, from any source, is included in ones diet.
Previous evidence shows that fatty red meat is a prime source of artery-clogging saturated fat, a factor associated with heart disease. And two studies published last year showed that people who eat red meat but not vegetarians or people who eat only white meat such as chicken have higher levels in the blood of a chemical called TMAO, which has been linked to higher heart disease risk.
The researchers cautioned against demonizing any food based on one study. “People often get the impression that if something raises cholesterol, it should be eliminated,” Krauss said. “I don’t want people to get too focused on an all or nothing approach.”
Also Check: How Long To Fast For Cholesterol Test
Types Of Cholesterol And How They Work In Your Body
Cholesterol is carried through the circulatory system on two lipoproteins: high-density lipoproteins , often referred to as good cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins , also called bad cholesterol.
LDL is termed bad cholesterol because when there is too much of it circulating in the blood , it can eventually build up in the form of plaque on the walls of your arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. Over time, this narrows the arteries and raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease, notes the AHA.
A high level of triglycerides the most common type of fat in your body can also lead to fatty buildups in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, if combined with high LDL or low HDL cholesterol levels, per the AHA.
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.
You May Like: Can You Have High Cholesterol And Low Blood Pressure
What Are The Normal Cholesterol Levels For Men And Women
A cholesterol test generally determines 4 distinct numbers: Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Cholesterol being fat, it is not soluble in water. So it cannot circulate freely in the blood. But, the fact is that nature has devised a way to make water-soluble cholesterol, and transport it through the blood. This is by lipoproteins. The LDL or Low-density lipoprotein and the HDL or high-density lipoprotein are the 2 fundamental cholesterol carriers but to make things simpler, they are considered as cholesterol types. In addition, the lipid panel appraises the triglycerides . They have an impact on health in the same manners as cholesterol. At last, the total cholesterol is integrated as well in the results. Apart from these 4 general lipid levels, your doctor may want to access your very low-density lipoprotein or VLDL that is considered bad when high.
Getting A Cholesterol Test
A blood sample is taken that will be used to determine the amount of bad cholesterol , good cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood.
You may be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours before the cholesterol test, usually including when you’re asleep at night. This ensures that all food is completely digested and won’t affect the outcome of the test.
Your GP or practice nurse can carry out the cholesterol test and will take a blood sample, either using a needle and a syringe or by pricking your finger.
A newer type of test that measures non-high-density lipoprotein is now sometimes used because it’s thought to be a more accurate way of estimating cardiovascular disease risk than LDL.
Non-HDL cholesterol is total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol. It’s also not necessary to fast before the test, so it is more convenient.
You May Like: How Will Keto Affect My Cholesterol
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.
What Is Ldl Cholesterol
There are different types of cholesterol which have different effects in the body. You might hear your healthcare professional talk about LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, which are the two main types.
LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol because too much of it can clog up your arteries and lead to health problems later on, such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. You do need some LDL cholesterol in your blood. Its when theres too much that its a problem.
HDL cholesterol is often called good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol away from your cells, back to your liver to be broken down. So, it helps prevent disease.
You May Like: Does Alcohol Contribute To High Cholesterol
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.
Can Bad Cholesterol Levels Be Too Low Can Good Cholesterol Levels Be Too High
It isnt often that people have bad cholesterol that is too low or good cholesterol that is too high. There are studies being done that suggest that extremes of any kind are not healthy for everyone.
However, there is data from clinical trials to support that there is no evidence of harm when LDLs remain < 40mg/dl on statin therapy.
In some cases, genetic conditions can cause you to have very low cholesterol levels. In other cases, nutritional problems, some cancers, hypothyroidism and certain infections can also cause low cholesterol levels. In any of these types of situations, the underlying issues need to be addressed.
In terms of having too much of a good thing, researchers are studying the effects of too much HDL, the good cholesterol. No conclusions have been reached, but there have been studies into the possible relationship between high HDL and cancer, and a greater risk of heart attack among the high risk. Excessively high HDL may be dysfunctional HDL and not protective.
Dont Miss: How Much Cholesterol In Mussels
You May Like: What To Eat To Improve Good Cholesterol