If you are looking for cholesterol management, you came to the right place. Learn how a lowered risk for heart disease and stroke is when you live a healthy lifestyle. To add context to your blood cholesterol, you may need to get liver function tests, a family history, and learn what other risk factors you may be dealing with.
What is LDL Cholesterol?
LDL cholesterol, historically, has been referred to as the “bad” cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein, and it is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). LDL cholesterol is a transporter of the majority of the cholesterol in the body’s cells. Based on established guidelines, in most scenarios, a level of 130 mg/dl or less is considered to be lower risk, and a level of 160 mg/dl or more is considered to be higher risk. LDL cholesterol levels that are consistently high can increase your risk for heart disease. It is also important to consider more “advanced” lipid panel results, including things like oxidized LDL, ApoB, and Lp(a), and their relation to LDL numbers. The good news is that you can do things to change your LDL and LDL subtype cholesterol levels, like exercise and eating a healthy diet.
What is HDL Cholesterol?
HDL cholesterol has been previously described as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol stands for high-density lipoprotein, and mg/dl stands for milligrams per deciliter. HDL is involved in the cholesterol transport back to the liver, so it can have a protective role in keeping the arteries from taking on high lipid-laden states. Desirable levels of HDL are typically above 60, and are considered to be protective, whereas levels below 40 (in males) or 50 (in females) are considered to be a marker for increased risk of heart attack and stroke. HDL size and function are also relevant to its ability to prevent the development of atherosclerosis. Several ways to increase your HDL cholesterol levels include exercise, eating a healthy diet, and quitting smoking. If you have a family history of heart disease, you may be at a higher risk of developing heart disease yourself. However, lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise can help to reduce your risk. If you have any questions about your cholesterol levels or how to reduce your risk of heart disease, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Do I need a blood test to test my cholesterol levels?
The simple answer is yes. Blood tests must be done to ensure your cholesterol levels are in the optimal range. Proper blood flow is extremely important, and if blood vessels are compromised, that can be a complication for you.
Some key lab areas to consider, when assessing for heart attack/stroke risk should certainly include a lipid panel, ideally with the markers above, as well as more advanced markers. These blood panels will give you access to total cholesterol levels, and learning your blood cholesterol levels will help you in the long run.
A lipid profile is a blood test that measures the:
-low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol
-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol
Triglycerides also may be measured as part of a lipid profile. Triglycerides are another form of fat in your blood.
Depending on your risk level, your total cholesterol and LDL may have certain target goals.
For triglycerides, anything below 150 mg/dL is considered normal. Triglyceride levels of 200 mg/dL or higher may increase your risk of developing pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). You don’t want to end up having chronic inflammation or cardiovascular risk.
What do cholesterol test numbers mean (mg/dl)
You have probably heard about low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is sometimes called “bad” because it can contribute to fatty buildup in your arteries (atherosclerosis). HDL cholesterol is sometimes called “good” because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries.
A lipid profile measures total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL cholesterol levels in mg/dL. The numbers obtained from this test can help predict your heart disease and stroke risk. Additional markers on expanded lipid profiles, such as oxidized LDL, apolipoprotein B, and Lp(a) can add context to that risk.
What are the makers of high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. Your liver makes most of the cholesterol in your body, but cholesterol is also found in foods from animals, such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.
Cholesterol isn’t all bad. Cholesterol plays an important role in many of your body’s functions, including:
– producing hormones
– helping you digest food
– building cell membranes
– insulation of nerves
However, too much cholesterol can be a problem. When there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries. This buildup is called plaque. Plaque narrows your arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow through them.
If the plaque breaks open, it can cause a blood clot, which can block blood flow to your heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.
You may lower your cholesterol levels by:
– Eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, resembling the Mediterranean Diet
– Avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils
– Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
– Exercising for 30 minutes most days of the week
– Quitting smoking
Checking your cholesterol levels is important in order to take steps to lower your cholesterol if it’s too high. This can help reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Talk to your doctor about when you should get your cholesterol checked.
What is the normal range for cholesterol levels?
The normal range for total cholesterol is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). For LDL cholesterol, the normal range is less than 100 mg/dL. For HDL cholesterol, the normal range is 40 mg/dL or higher. For triglycerides, the normal range is less than 150 mg/dL. If your cholesterol levels are high, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, natural agents, and medications to help lower them, ideally personalized to your unique health situation.