How Often Should You Test Your Cholesterol
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Heart Association recommend that men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 get tested every one to two years.
The test for non-HDL cholesterol isn’t usually part of screening for your total cholesterol, but your healthcare provider may ask you to check these levels if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other risk factors for heart disease.
Substitute Healthy Oils In Place Of Butter And Margarine
Of course, its not always realistic to avoid fats when youre whipping up a tasty meal.
When you do need to add fat for cooking, baking or pan frying, use healthy oils instead of solid fats like butter, margarine, shortening and lard. Solid fats are high in saturated fats, but oils are high in unsaturated fats, which remember are better for you. The American Heart Association recommends using oils that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon .
Many times, its easy to swap a solid fat to a healthier one. Try using olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil in place of a solid fat.
For example, if youd rather use olive oil than butter, substitute ¾ the amount of butter in a recipe with olive oil. You might also bring out some new, surprising, subtle flavors, too.
How To Read Your Lipid Panel Results
Most people dont think about their cholesterol levels until a doctor orders a lipid panel for them. There are;no symptoms of having high cholesterol. Thats how you can go from living your life normally one day and having your whole world turned upside down the next. If your lipid panel results come back high, what do you do? Heck, what does these numbers even mean? And while were at it, whats a lipid anyway?
Lets take that last one first. Lipids are fat-like substances found in your blood and body tissues. You need them in order for your body to function at all. There are several types of lipids in our bodies. While they are usually used as a substitution for the word fats, the strict definition is a substance that can dissolve in alcohol, but not in water. Cholesterol and triglycerides are considered lipids, but so are fatty acids and steroids.
For a long time, cholesterol was considered just one thing. Then, it was broken down into good cholesterol, which is really HDL, which stands for High Density Lipoprotein and bad cholesterol, which is really LDL, which stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. Cholesterol as a whole is not bad. Part of why there are diets that recommend avoiding cholesterol in your foods is because our livers actually make all the cholesterol we need to build cells. So, whatever cholesterol our bodies get from food is above and beyond what we need.
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What Foods Help Lower Ldl Cholesterol
A heart-healthy diet that is high in fiber and plant-based foods can help lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. Mainly vegetarian or vegan diets have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of blocked arteries. Foods that can help lower LDL cholesterol include:
If diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your cholesterol to healthy ranges, then your doctor may prescribe medication. The type of cholesterol lowering medication depends upon your levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides; and any current medications you are currently taking, and your overall health.
Medication options to reduce cholesterol include statins, niacin, and fibric acid agents . Your doctor may prescribe one or several types of these drugs to reduce your cholesterol levels to a healthy range.
How Total Cholesterol Is Measured
This is done using a blood test called a lipoprotein panel, which also measures your triglycerides.;For this test, you provide a blood sample thats taken after youve fasted for 9 to 12 hours before your test.
Your total cholesterol score is calculated using the equation: HDL level + LDL level + 20% of your triglyceride level.
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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
Hdl And Ldl Cholesterol By The Numbers
A lipid panel is a blood test that shows your total cholesterol levels. In addition to tracking HDL and LDL levels, it’s important to keep an eye on triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels also put you at a higher risk of heart disease.;
Although a lipid test can be done with or without fasting, you are more likely to get accurate results by fasting, especially if your triglycerides are going to be measured. This means you can have nothing but water for nine to 12 hours before the test.
Optimal HDL levels are 40 milligrams per deciliter for adult men and 50 mg/dL for adult women, although HDL levels that are consistently above 60 mg/dL are associated with a precipitous decrease in your heart disease risk.
Optimal LDL levels are below 100 mg/dL for both adult men and adult women.
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What Are Some Things That Can Affect My Cholesterol Levels
There are a variety of factors that can affect your cholesterol. While some things are unavoidable like age and family history, making heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as balanced meal plans, regular exercise, and weight management goes a long way to improving your long-term health, said Chiadika.
- Diet Foods rich in saturated fat or trans fat have the biggest impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Consider healthier options to help reduce intake of these types of fats.
- Obesity Being overweight raises your triglycerides levels and lowers your HDL. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes regularly.
- Smoking This not only lowers your HDL level but also raises your LDL level. Eliminate this habit or look into a smoking cessation program.
- Age Cholesterol levels tend to rise as we age. Although less common, children and teens can also have high levels as well.
- Family history High cholesterol can run in families. In most cases, children with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated levels of cholesterol.
What Does The Test Measure
An HDL cholesterol test analyzes a sample of blood to see how much cholesterol is present within high-density lipoprotein particles. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is important for basic cell function. Cholesterol is transported through the body in the blood within lipoproteins, which are made up of fat and protein.
There are multiple kinds of lipoproteins that can carry cholesterol including high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins , and very low-density lipoproteins .
Cholesterol in LDL and VLDL particles can build up in the arteries and cause cardiovascular problems. In contrast, HDL particles transport cholesterol to the liver so that it can be eliminated from the body. Through this and other functions, HDL cholesterol helps protect against hardening and blockages of the arteries.
In practice, virtually all HDL cholesterol tests also measure total cholesterol, which is the sum of cholesterol found in all the different kinds of lipoproteins. By subtracting HDL cholesterol from total cholesterol, the doctor can determine the amount of non-HDL cholesterol that is present. In addition, tests like a lipid panel use a mathematical formula to calculate the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood sample.
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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.
What Causes High Cholesterol
Your liver produces cholesterol, but you also get cholesterol from food. Eating too many foods that are high in fat can increase your cholesterol level.
Being overweight and inactive also causes high cholesterol. If you are overweight, you most likely have a higher level of triglycerides. If you never exercise and arent active in general, it can lower your HDL .
You family history also affects your cholesterol level. Research has shown that high cholesterol tends to run in families. If you have an immediate family member who has it, you could have it, too.
Smoking also causes high cholesterol. It lowers your HDL .
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Good Cholesterol Vs Bad Cholesterol: What You Need To Know
While most of us know that having high cholesterol doesnt necessarily boost heart health, is it really as bad as it sounds? Truth be told, cholesterol isnt simply good or bad, its somewhere in between. In fact, cholesterol is actually essential for your body in healthy doses. Its used to build and maintain cells and hormones, like estrogen, steroids and vitamin D, as well as supporting digestion. ;
Cholesterol or the fatty substance found in your cells is divided up into two different types: HDL and LDL . Heres what you need to know about both:
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.
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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.
Even though there is no clear-cut number about what LDL level is too low, levels under 40 mg/dL may be associated with certain health issues, including depression/anxiety, and hemorrhagic stroke.
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.
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.
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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.
Why Is Cholesterol Important To Our Bodies
Every cell in the body needs cholesterol, which helps the cell membranes form the layers. These layers protect the contents of the cell by acting as the gatekeeper to what things can enter or leave the cell. It is made by the liver and is also used by the liver to make bile, which helps you digest foods. Cholesterol is also needed to make certain hormones and to produce vitamin D. Your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet your bodys needs for these important functions.
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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.
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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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.
Managing Your Cholesterol Means Monitoring Your Numbers And Living A Healthy Lifestyle For Starters Understand The Hdl Vs Ldl Equation
When it comes to the HDL vs. LDL debate, is there a clear-cut answer as to which cholesterol number is more important? Our contributing editor sorts things out and leads you to a clear winnersort of.
Youve probably heard high-density lipoprotein cholesterol described as the good cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein as the bad cholesterol. But when it comes to which type of cholesterol is most important to control, who wins the HDL vs. LDL matchup?
If only it were that simple.
Theres considerable debate in medical circles about the importance of reaching certain target levels of LDL, HDL, and a type of blood fat called triglycerides. These measurements comprise your lipid profile. And your lipid profile is one way doctors can determine your risk for cardiovascular disease and a heart attack.
Even though cardiologists and researchers have learned much about how cholesterol functions in the body and how it and other risk factors determine your likelihood of a heart attack, many questions continue to swirl. Is HDL vs. LDL the most important question? Are high triglyceride levels the real enemy? Is cholesterol ratio the key set of numbers? And just what should your levels be?
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