Are Home Cholesterol Testing Kits Accurate
The answer is yes if the tests are labeled CDC-certified. This means that the contents have been approved by the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network, a group that works with test makers, laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure tests are accurate.
For home tests, you will still need to fast for 12 hours and to obtain blood for testing. Some kits come with packages for mailing to a lab for results. Other kits have a monitor so you can get the results at home. The cost of such home kits varies.
How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
You cant tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. A simple blood test will reveal your cholesterol level.
Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked. Men and women 20 years of age and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have their cholesterol checked. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or have a strong family history of high cholesterol. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol checked.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- Cigarette smoking.
- Having an immediate family member who has had heart disease.
- Being overweight or obese.
Myth #3 If Someone Has High Cholesterol Its Because Theyre Not Eating Right And Not Exercising
False: With dedication to proper nutrition and exercise, a woman can expect her cholesterol levels to go down about 10-20%. Remember that 80% of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver, so 80% of your cholesterol level is determined by your genetics. This means that if a woman has very high cholesterol naturally, decreasing her cholesterol 10-20% through diet and exercise may not be enough to bring her down to a healthy level.
For example, say a woman has a total cholesterol level of 250 mg/dl and decides to completely revamp her eating habits and train for marathons. At best she can reduce her cholesterol level to 200 mg/dl, which is still considered borderline high.
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Why Am I Gaining Fat On The Keto Diet
I have been following the keto diet for a week and managed to lose nearly 9 pounds .
I work out four to five times a week and completely abstain from alcohol . Still, today the scale showed that Id lost one pound of muscle in a day! And that Id gained 0.7 pounds of fat, even though Im very strict about my intake of food.
So my questions are: how come this fat gain happened and how can I avoid it? I weigh 227 pounds .
I am not sure how you are measuring fat or muscle mass, but keep in mind that many measuring techniques look at fat mass and other, and call the other lean body mass. But water weight also falls into the other category. So some scales will call the loss of water weight a loss of lean body mass by mistake. So make sure you are clear about what your scale is measuring.
Also, there are day-to-day variations that take place, but what is more important for most people is the long-term results. Being patient is sometimes the most important, and hardest, thing to do.
Here is a guide that puts weight loss into perspective of health in general:
- Women’s questions introduction 01:36 In this video series, you can find expert views on some of your top questions about low-carb and women’s health.
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- Is low carb bad for gut bacteria? 02:14 Can a low-carb diet be potentially harmful to your gut microbiome?
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Replace Some Saturated Fats With Monounsaturated Fats
In the largest and highest quality studies, saturated fat is not linked to increased heart attacks or death from heart disease .
However if you have problems with cholesterol, then it is a good idea to try to replace some of the saturated fats you are eating with monounsaturated fats.
This simple modification may help to bring your levels down.
Cook with olive oil instead of butter and coconut oil. Eat more nuts and avocados. These foods are all loaded with monounsaturated fats.
If this alone doesnt work, then you may even want to start replacing some of the fatty meat you are eating with leaner meat.
I cant emphasize olive oil enough quality extra virgin olive oil has many other benefits for heart health that go way beyond cholesterol levels.
It protects the LDL particles from oxidation, reduces inflammation, improves the function of the endothelium and may even lower blood pressure (
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Whats Your Cholesterol Level Anyway
A standard lipid blood test usually measures the concentration of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. The LDL-cholesterol level is typically estimated from these numbers using a well-established formula that has been more recently revised and improved by researchers at Johns Hopkins.
So what are your target numbers? According to Michos, an ideal LDL cholesterol level should be less than 70 mg/dl, and a womans HDL cholesterol level ideally should be close to 50 mg/dl. Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl. As Michos notes, total cholesterol levels well below 200 mg/dl are best.
Stress And Cholesterol Link
There is compelling evidence that your level of stress can cause an increase in bad cholesterol indirectly. For example, one study found that stress is positively linked to having less healthy dietary habits, a higher body weight, and a less healthy diet, all of which are known risk factors for high cholesterol. This was found to be especially true in men.
Another study that focused on over 90,000 people found that those who self-reported being more stressed at work had a greater chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol. This may be because the body releases a hormone called cortisol in response to stress. High levels of cortisol from long-term stress may be the mechanism behind how stress can increase cholesterol. Adrenaline may also be released, and these hormones can trigger a fight or flight response to deal with the stress. This response will then trigger triglycerides, which can boost bad cholesterol.
Regardless of the physical reasons why stress can impact cholesterol, multiple studies show a positive correlation between high stress and high cholesterol. While there are other factors that can contribute to high cholesterol, it seems that stress can be one, too.
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Diagnosis Of High Cholesterol
In most cases, your doctor will find your high cholesterol through routine screening. A lipid panel usually measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.
Your doctor may order other tests to help decide whether medicines are needed to lower your risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. These may include a coronary calcium scan, which uses computed tomography to detect calcium deposits in the arteries of your heart, and blood tests for levels of C-reactive protein and lipoprotein-a.
The American Heart Association recommends routine cholesterol screening for all adults after age 20, but your doctor may order lipid tests more often based on your individual and family risk.
Your doctor will ask about your eating habits, physical activity, family history, medicines you are taking, and risk factors for heart or blood vessel diseases. During your physical exam, your doctor will check for signs of very high blood cholesterol, such as xanthomas, or signs of other health conditions that can cause high blood cholesterol.
How Fat Moves From Food To The Bloodstream
Fat and cholesterol cant dissolve in water or blood. Instead, the body packages fat and cholesterol into tiny, protein-covered particles called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins can transport a lot of fat they mix easily with blood and flow with it. Some of these particles are big and fluffy, while others are small and dense. The most important ones are low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins , and triglycerides.
- Low Density lipoproteins
Low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Cells latch onto these particles and extract fat and cholesterol from them. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, these particles can form deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. Such deposits, called plaque, can narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad, or harmful, cholesterol.
- High-density lipoproteins
High-density lipoproteins scavenge cholesterol from the bloodstream, from LDL, and from artery walls and ferry it back to the liver for disposal. Think of HDL as the garbage trucks of the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as good, or protective, cholesterol.
In general, the lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.
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What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
- 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As a general guide, LDL levels should be:
- 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is only one risk factor. The level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.
Medical Conditions That Can Raise Cholesterol
Its also important to rule out medical conditions that can cause elevated cholesterol. These really dont have anything to do with the diet itself.
One example of that is reduced thyroid function. When thyroid function is lower than optimal, Total and LDL cholesterol can go up .
Another thing to consider is weight loss in some individuals, losing weight can temporarily increase LDL cholesterol.
If your levels go up at a time when you are losing weight rapidly, you may want to wait for a few months and then measure them again when your weight stabilizes.
Its also important to rule out a genetic condition like Familial Hypercholesterolemia, which afflicts about 1 in 500 people and is characterized by very high cholesterol levels and a high risk of heart disease.
Of course, there are many subtle genetic differences between us that can determine our responses to different diets, such as different versions of a gene called ApoE .
Now that all of that is out of the way, lets take a look at some actionable steps that you can take to bring those cholesterol levels down.
Make sure to rule out any medical or genetic condition that may be causing you to have high cholesterol.
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Cholesterol Myths And Facts
Cholesterol can be confusing! Learn answers to common questions about blood cholesterol.
What do your cholesterol numbers mean? Can the foods you eat change your cholesterol levels?
Learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. Then commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
If the 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. If you take 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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Addressing Issues With High Cholesterol
A person cannot directly alter their genetic makeup however, they can reduce the risk factors that are associated with heredity by altering their lifestyle. This means engaging in a healthy lifestyle that is not associated with any type of drug misuse or abuse. Individuals using or abusing drugs or alcohol should become involved in substance use disorder treatment programs to address these issues.
Other common sense interventions to engage in include:
- Eating a balanced diet
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The Problem With Vegetable Oil
The vegetable oil you buy in the supermarket to cook with has usually been through a number of processes that have damaged the beneficial fats once present in the oils, and produced some toxic substances. Most oils come from seeds, nuts or fruit.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated vegetable oils are quite delicate and unstable. This means that they are easily damaged and go rancid quickly. This can make them quite harmful to our health. Currently most vegetable oils are extracted in factories through the use of heat and chemical solvents. They are exposed to light and oxygen during processing, which negatively affect the oil.
If you cook with these kinds of processed vegetable oils and heat them to high temperatures, you are further destroying them and adding to the quantity of trans fatty acids they already contain. If you eat a lot of damaged, oxidized oils, they will cause your LDL cholesterol molecules to be oxidized. This kind of cholesterol is more likely to accumulate in artery walls and block them. The inflammation generated in your body also raises cholesterol production.
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Who Should Consider Meds
If you fall into any of these categories, statins are likely to provide a significant benefit , so talk with your doctor about them if:
You already have plaque in your arteries.
Your LDL target will be even lower than 130 it should be at least under 100 mg/dL, and ideally under 70 mg/dL.
You have diabetes.
Anyone with diabetes over the age of 40 should take a statin, since chronically high blood sugar greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Your LDL is super high .
You’re a time bomb. Statins will likely drop your levels way down into a safer zone.
Your age, blood pressure, smoking history, and cholesterol numbers point to a high chance of trouble.
Even if you dont meet the above criteria, you may still have a high risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. Docs figure out how high using calculators that estimate your 10-year risk of having heart disease. If your ten-year risk is more than 7.5%, youd likely be safer with a statin.
Your arteries are filled with calcium.
If the calculator pegs your risk in a lower range, but youre still concerned , you can get a scan to further assess your risk. A CAT scan of your heart, for example, can quantify its calcium burden, or score, and very abnormal results indicate a more urgent need to lower your cholesterol.
How Obesity Raises Your Risk Of High Cholesterol
The problem starts when thereâs too much LDL in your bloodstream, a condition called hypercholesterolemia. That can create fatty deposits that build up , block your arteries, and eventually restrict blood flow. That could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
One reason being overweight or obese raises your odds of high cholesterol is because it affects the way your body makes and manages lipoproteins, including cholesterol and triglycerides — another fatty substance, or lipid, your body needs in small amounts.
Triglycerides form in your liver from free fatty acids and a kind of glucose . If your body makes too many triglycerides, that can lead to higher levels of other lipoproteins as well, including cholesterol.
So being overweight or obese can raise your chances of high triglycerides and, in turn, high cholesterol because youâre more likely to:
- Have increased fat tissue in your body, which means higher amounts of free fatty acids are delivered to your liver. This is especially true if you carry the extra weight around your middle.
- Be insulin-resistant, which can also increase the amount of free fatty acids in your liver
- Have inflammation throughout your body, which can affect the way your body manages HDL, or âgood cholesterol,â and other lipoproteins
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Your Body Needs Just Enough Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that travels through your blood. At persistently elevated levels, its linked to an increased risk in heart disease. But cholesterol isnt a bad guy on its own. In fact, your body needs cholesterol to function properly.
The problem is, your body needs only a small amount of it, and your liver produces enough to meet your bodys needs.
Living With High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Reducing your LDL bad cholesterol through good diet, exercise, and medicine can make a positive impact on your overall health.
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