How Do I Know If My Cholesterol Is Too High
There are no signs or symptoms when it comes to high cholesterol. The only way to screen for it is through a blood test called a lipoprotein profile which measures your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels. Everyone over the age of 20 should get screened for cholesterol levels every five years. Many people do not know they are affected until a life-threatening event occurs, said Chiadika.
When screening for cholesterol, the numbers below are recommended for an average adult:
- Total cholesterol level less than 200 milligrams per deciliter is best 240 mg/dL is considered high.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 100 mg/dL is best, but this depends on your risk for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol levels 60 mg/dL or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides less than 150 is best.
For children, the numbers below are acceptable:
- Total cholesterol level less than 170 mg/dL over 200 mg/dL is high.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 110 mg/dL is best over 130 mg/dL is high.
Treatment options to lower cholesterol vary based on each individual persons needs, risk factors, and goals. Speak with your doctor to determine what works best for you.
UT Physicians is the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston .
What Are Ldl And Hdl
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.
What Medications Are Used To Reduce Ldl Cholesterol
There are several classes of drugs prescribed for high LDL. These include:
- Statins: These drugs inhibit the activity of enzymes in the liver that produce cholesterol, lowering LDL, while raising HDL. The most commonly prescribed types include Lipitor , Lescol , and Advicor , among many others.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: This type of drug, most commonly available as Zetia and Vytorin , prevents the intestines from absorbing cholesterol.
- Bile acid sequestrants: By spurring the intestine to shed more cholesterol, drugs like Colestid , Welchol , and Questran help lower LDL levels.
- PCSK9 inhibitors: This newer class of cholesterol-lowering drug, available as Repatha and Praluent , has shown great promise in lowering LDL. These monoclonal antibodies inhibit proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 , a protein that regulates cholesterol levels.
- Adenosine triphosphate-citrate lyase inhibitors: In adults with genetic high cholesterol, or those with heart disease, ACL inhibitors like Nexletol and Nexlizet may be prescribed. These are combined with statins and lifestyle changes to improve LDL levels.
- Fibrates: Drugs of this type, such as Lopid andfenofibrate , primarily moderate triglyceride levels, though they can also lower LDL.
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How Can I Lower My Ldl Cholesterol Without Medications
The first step in managing any case of high LDL is through adopting healthy, therapeutic lifestyle changes . The key to TLC is:
- Adjusting diet: Adopting specific, heart-healthy eating habits, such as the TLC diet, Mediterranean diet, or the Dietary Approaches to Hypertension eating plan can dramatically improve LDL levels. These limit intake of trans fats, salt, and cholesterol, while boosting healthy, unsaturated fats.
- Managing weight: If you’re overweight or obese, even moderate reductions in weight can help lower LDL. Incorporating healthier lifestyle habits, such as improving diet, sleep quality, and level of physical activity can make a big difference.
- Staying active: Ensuring that you’re getting enough physical activity will also help reduce LDL levels. Aiming for a bare minimum of 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as taking daily walks or cycling, can help a great deal.
Hdl Vs Ldl Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol. If there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the walls of the blood vessels, causing them to narrow and stiffen.
HDL or good cholesterol can move LDL cholesterol from the blood to the liver, which breaks it down for disposal as waste. HDL cholesterol is referred to as good cholesterol because it reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Higher HDL levels are linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and heart disease.
for healthy cholesterol levels are as follows:
- total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol above 40 mg/dL
Different regions and countries may have varying guidelines, so it is wise to speak to a doctor about the most accurate and up-to-date ranges.
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Why Is Ldl Called The Bad Cholesterol
LDL is called the bad cholesterol because it can cause a buildup of fat and cholesterol in the walls of your blood vessels. If your LDL has been high for many years, this buildup can clog the arteries to your heart or brain. The arteries may be partly or totally blocked. The medical word for this blockage is atherosclerosis. Clogged arteries to the heart can cause a heart attack. Clogged arteries to the brain can cause a stroke.
Understanding Cholesterol: Hdl Ldl And Triglycerides
There are two types of grocery shoppersthose who race in with a list in hand and meticulously grab every item on the list before checking out and leaving, and those who meander up and down every aisle, not sure what they want until they see it on the shelf.
But within those two types, theres another shopper you may have seenthe label-reader. This person is health-conscious and examines the nutrition labels of food items before placing them in the cart.
One of the most important categories to check for on a food label is cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood. Your body needs some cholesterol, but too much can build up on the walls of your arteries and can lead to heart disease and stroke. Checking your risk for heart disease and stroke is as simple as getting a lipid panel, which tests your blood cholesterol.
There are four important things checked in a lipid panel:
- Total cholesterol
- Low-density lipoproteins
HDL is known as the good cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol by carrying it back to the liver where it can be eliminated from the body. Its good to have a high HDL number. LDL is known as the bad cholesterol because having too much LDL may cause a buildup of plaque in your blood vessels. Triglycerides are also a type of fat found in your blood. High triglycerides, low HDL, and/or high LDL numbers can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
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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.
Is It Possible To Have High Cholesterol With No Symptoms
High cholesterol can be inherited, but its often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, which make it preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can help reduce high cholesterol. High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect if you have it.
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How Ldl Impacts Total Cholesterol
Physiologically speaking, LDL represents a majority of your cholesterol however, as noted, HDL and triglycerides are also present in significant amounts. Total cholesterol levelswhile not as clinically significant for isolated heart and circulation issuesgive a decent glimpse of cardiovascular health.
So how does LDL impact total cholesterol levels? Total cholesterol is a composite score calculated by adding up LDL and HDL levels with 20% of the triglyceride score. Normal levels of this type are less than 170 mg/dL for those under 20, and between 125 and 200 mg/dL for adults. Forty percent of that score is determined by LDL, which is also a significant measure in its own right.
Blood Sugar Levels For Seniors
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How Do I Know What My Ldl Level Is
A blood test can measure your cholesterol levels, including LDL. When and how often you should get this test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger::
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older::
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
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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Health Problems Can Arise When You Have Elevated Levels Of Bad Cholesterol
A waxy compound found in your bodys cells, cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and present in some foods. There are two types of proteins that carry cholesterol through the bloodstream: high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein . HDL is considered good cholesterol, as it absorbs cholesterol and brings it back to the liver, whereas LDL is bad” cholesterol.
What makes LDL so concerning? Why is it bad? High levels can cause plaque to form in your arteries. In turn, this can lead to a range of serious conditions, such as coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease , among others. These diseases are leading causes of heart attack and stroke.
This being the case, checking LDL levelsas part of a broader assessment of cholesterolis an essential part of a routine physical. If your levels are high, youll need to manage the condition, which can mean everything from adopting lifestyle changes to taking medication. Learning more about cholesterol and LDL helps you understand your health overall.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
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.
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No Apparent Danger Of Very Low Ldl Cholesterol
LDL is a key component of many hormones and all cell membranes, which allow cells to communicate with each other. Earlier studies had raised concerns that lowering LDL too far might interfere with normal cellular functions, especially in organs that have higher lipid concentrations, such as the brain and reproductive organs. And there have been reports of a slightly increased risk of osteoporosis and brain bleeding in patients treated with high doses of statin medications.
Well-known side effects in people who use statin medications include muscle aches and a slightly increased risk of diabetes, especially when high doses of medication are used. Whether these risks are due to the statin medications themselves or the lowering of LDL is not entirely clear.
However, people with rare inherited disorders in which LDL levels are extremely low from birth appear to have normal fertility and no major organ dysfunction. Therefore, an extremely low LDL by itself does not appear to be dangerous in these unusual cases.
Family History And Genetics
Family members usually have similar cholesterol levels. This suggests that your genes can raise your risk of having unhealthy cholesterol levels.
In addition, your genes may raise your risk for another type of bad cholesterol. High levels of lipoprotein-a, also called Lp, may mean you are at high risk of heart or blood vessel diseases, even if your other cholesterol levels are healthy. Genes determine how much Lp you have. Your Lp level is unlikely to change much from childhood to old age.
Lp is not usually part of a routine lipid panel. Your doctor may order an Lp test if you have a family history of early heart or blood vessel disease, such as heart attack, or do not know your family medical history. If you have a high Lp level, your doctor may prescribe a statin to prevent heart and blood vessel disease, even if your other cholesterol levels are in the healthy range.
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Which Foods Increase Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Your diet plays a massive role in determining your cholesterol levels. Foods high in trans fats, saturated fats, and salts can be especially dangerous. These include:
- Red meats
- Donuts, cookies, crackers, and other baked goods
- Fast foods
- Chicken with the skin on
- Cured or processed meats
Many food items you find in the store may have trans and saturated fats and high sodium, so make sure to carefully read the nutrition information before buying.
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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What Are Good And Bad Cholesterol
Rather than two different kinds of cholesterol that are good and bad, there are two different types of lipoproteins that cholesterol travels in. Having some of both types of lipoproteins is essential for good health.
High-density lipoproteins, called HDL cholesterol, are often thought of as good because they remove cholesterol from your arteries and take it back to your liver to process and eliminate.
Low-density lipoproteins, called LDL cholesterol, are thought of as the bad cholesterol, because they leave cholesterol in your arteries. While you need some LDL and HDL cholesterol for your body to work properly, too much cholesterol in total can lead to health problems, as the extra LDL cholesterol builds up in your arteries.