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Why is cholesterol important?
When should I have my
LDL cholesterol and why is it “bad” cholesterol?
What are the levels of
HDL cholesterol and why is it “good” cholesterol?
What are the levels of
How is triglyceride
connected to cholesterol?
What are the levels of
How are cholesterol levels
What are healthy levels
What affects cholesterol levels?
What is the treatment for
Where can I buy a
home test kit for cholesterol?
What is cholesterol? (top)
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in
the bloodstream and in all your body's cells. It's normal to have
cholesterol. It's an important part of a healthy body because it's used
for producing cell membranes and some hormones, and serves other needed
bodily functions. But too much cholesterol in the blood is a major risk
for coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack. It's also a
risk factor for stroke.
You get cholesterol in two ways. Your body makes some of
it, and the rest comes from cholesterol in animal products that you eat,
such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, cheese and whole milk. Food
from plants — like fruits, vegetables and cereals — doesn't have
cholesterol. Some foods that don't contain animal products may contain
trans fats, which cause your body to make more cholesterol. Foods with
saturated fats also cause the body to make more cholesterol.
Why is cholesterol
cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart
disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for
heart disease. A risk factor is a condition that increases your chance
of getting a disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level,
the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart
attack. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the
United States. Each year, more than a million Americans have heart
attacks and about a half million people die from heart disease.
should I have my cholesterol checked? (top)
Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol
measured at least once every 5 years. It is best to have a blood test
called a "lipoprotein profile" to find out your cholesterol numbers.
This blood test is done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information
- Total cholesterol
- LDL (bad) cholesterol--the main source of
cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
- HDL (good) cholesterol--helps keep cholesterol
from building up in the arteries
- Triglycerides--another form of fat in your blood
is LDL cholesterol and why is it “bad” cholesterol? (top)
Bad cholesterol is known as LDL
(Low-density lipoprotein). When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in
the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries
that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances it can
form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. This
condition is known as
If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, it can cause a heart
attack or stroke.
the levels of LDL cholesterol? (top)
Your LDL cholesterol level greatly affects your risk of
heart attack and stroke. The lower your LDL cholesterol, the lower your
risk of heart attack or stoke. In fact, it’s a better gauge of risk than
total blood cholesterol. Your LDL cholesterol will fall into one of
Less than 100 mg/dL
100 to 129 mg/dL
Near Optimal/ Above
130 to 159 mg/dL
160 to 189 mg/dL
190 mg/dL and above
The key point to remember is the lower your LDL
cholesterol, the lower your risk. Your doctor may prescribe a diet low
in saturated fat and cholesterol, regular exercise and a weight
management program if you're overweight. If you can't lower your
cholesterol with these efforts, medications may also be prescribed to
lower your LDL cholesterol.
is HDL cholesterol and why is it “good” cholesterol? (top)
“Good” cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein
(HDL). HDL cholesterol is known as the "good" cholesterol because a high
level of it seems to protect against heart attack. Medical experts think
that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to
the liver, where it's passed from the body. Some experts believe that
HDL removes excess cholesterol from plaque in arteries, thus slowing the
the levels of HDL cholesterol? (top)
40 to 50 mg/dL
50 to 60 mg/dL
39 or lower mg/dL
Low HDL cholesterol puts you at high risk for heart
disease. Smoking, being overweight and being sedentary can all result in
lower HDL cholesterol. If you have low HDL cholesterol, you can help
raise it by:
People with high blood triglycerides usually have lower
HDL cholesterol and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Progesterone, anabolic steroids and male sex hormones (testosterone)
also lower HDL cholesterol levels. Female sex hormones raise HDL
How is triglyceride connected to cholesterol? (top)
Triglyceride is a form of fat. It comes from food and is
also made in your body. People with high triglycerides often have high
total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol and a low HDL cholesterol level.
Many people with heart disease also have high triglyceride
levels. People with diabetes or who are obese are also likely to have
the levels of triglyceride? (top)
Your triglyceride level will fall into one of these
Less than 150 mg/dL
150 - 199 mg/dL
200 - 499 mg/dL
500 + mg/dl
Many people with high triglycerides have underlying
diseases or genetic disorders. If this is true for you, the main therapy
is to change your lifestyle. This includes controlling your weight,
eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, exercising
regularly, not smoking and, in some cases, drinking less alcohol. People
with high triglycerides may also need to limit their intake of
carbohydrates to no more than 45–50 percent of total calories. The
reason for this is that carbohydrates raise triglycerides in some
people and lower HDL cholesterol. Use products with monounsaturated and
cholesterol levels measured? (top)
Total blood cholesterol is the most common measurement of
blood cholesterol. It's the number you normally receive as test results.
Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).
Knowing your total blood cholesterol level is an important first step in
determining your risk for heart disease.
healthy levels of cholesterol? (top)
Your total blood cholesterol will fall into one of these
Desirable — Less than 200 mg/dL
If your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, your
heart attack risk is relatively low, unless you have other risk factors.
Even with a low risk, it's still smart to eat foods low in saturated
fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and also get plenty of physical
activity. Have your cholesterol levels measured every five years — or
more often if you're a man over 45 or a woman over 55.
Borderline high risk — 200–239
People whose cholesterol level is from 200 to 239 mg/dL
are borderline high risk. About a third of American adults are in this
(borderline) group; almost half of adults have total cholesterol levels
below 200 mg/dL.
High risk — 240 mg/dL and over
If your total cholesterol level is 240 or more, it's definitely
high. Your risk of heart attack and stroke is greater. In general,
people who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL have twice the
risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is 200
Have your cholesterol and HDL rechecked in one to two
cholesterol is in this range.
Your HDL is less
than 40 mg/dL.
You don’t have
other risk factors for heart disease.
You should also lower your intake of foods high in
saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your blood cholesterol level to
below 200 mg/dL. Your doctor may order another blood test to measure
your LDL cholesterol. Ask your doctor to discuss your LDL cholesterol
with you. Even if your total cholesterol is between 200 and 239 mg/dL,
you may not be at high risk for a heart attack.
for a cholesterol tracker from the American Heart Association®
cholesterol levels? (top)
A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These
are things you can do something about:
Diet: Saturated fat and
cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level go up.
Saturated fat is the main culprit, but cholesterol in foods also
matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your
diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
Weight: Being overweight is
a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your
cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol
levels, as well as raise your HDL and lower your triglyceride levels.
Physical Activity: Not being
physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical
activity can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good)
cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be
physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.
Things you cannot do anything about also can affect
cholesterol levels. These include:
Age and Gender: As women and
men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of
menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the
same age. After the age of menopause, women's LDL levels tend to rise.
Heredity: Your genes partly
determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High blood cholesterol
can run in families.
the treatment for cholesterol? (top)
The main goal of
cholesterol-lowering treatment is to lower your LDL level enough to
reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
The higher your risk, the lower your LDL goal will be. There are two
main ways to lower your cholesterol:
Changes (TLC) and drug treatments- TLC is for anyone whose LDL is above
goal and includes the following;
This is a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol eating plan that calls for
less than 7percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 200 mg
of dietary cholesterol per day. The TLC diet recommends only enough
calories to maintain a desirable weight and avoid weight gain. If your
LDL is not lowered enough by reducing your saturated fat and cholesterol
intakes, the amount of soluble fiber in your diet can be increased.
Certain food products that contain plant stanols or plant sterols (for
example, cholesterol-lowering margarines) can also be added to the TLC
diet to boost its LDL-lowering power.
Losing weight if you are overweight can help lower LDL and is especially
important for those with a cluster of risk factors that includes high
triglyceride and/or low HDL levels and being overweight with a large
waist measurement (more than 40 inches for men and more than 35 inches
activity (30 minutes on most, if not all, days) is recommended for
everyone. It can help raise HDL and lower LDL and is especially
important for those with high triglyceride and/or low HDL levels who are
overweight with a large waist measurement.
if cholesterol-lowering drugs are needed, they are used together with
TLC treatment to help lower your LDL. There are several types of drugs
available for cholesterol lowering including;
very effective in lowering LDL levels and is safe for most people. They
slow down your body's production of cholesterol. These drugs also remove
cholesterol buildup from your arteries (blood vessels).
lowers LDL and can be used alone or in combination with statin drugs.
lowers LDL and triglycerides and raises HDL.
lower LDL somewhat but are used mainly to treat high triglyceride and
low HDL levels.
Niacin: is a B
vitamin. When given in large doses, it can lower your levels of
triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and increase your HDL cholesterol
level. Even though you can buy niacin without a prescription, you should
not take it to lower your cholesterol unless your doctor prescribes it
for you. It can cause serious side effects.
Absorption Inhibitors: lower LDL by reducing
the amount that is absorbed
by your intestines and can be used alone
or in combination with statin drugs.
Even if you begin drug treatment to
lower your cholesterol, you will need to continue your treatment with
lifestyle changes. This will keep the dose of medicine as low as
possible, and lower your risk in other ways as well.
Your doctor can help decide which
type of drug is best for you. Once your LDL goal has been reached, your
doctor may prescribe treatment for high triglycerides and/or a low HDL
level, if present. The treatment includes losing weight if needed,
increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and possibly taking a
Click here to purchase home test kits for cholesterol