CHOLESTEROL – Learn the Facts
Learning about cholesterol is vital to treat, prevent and reduce cholesterol. The information presented below lets you know the distinction between good and bad cholesterol, optimal blood cholesterol levels, how to prepare for a cholesterol test, and the precautions that are to be taken while using cholesterol drugs. We also look at the reasons why high cholesterol is detrimental to health.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all parts of the body. It is made in the body mainly by the liver. It may surprise you to learn that cholesterol isn't all that bad and that it is essential for our body to function in the right way. Your body needs some cholesterol to make vitamin D as well as to produce hormones and digestive enzymes. Then, why is that there are many health warnings about high cholesterol levels? It is important to note that too much cholesterol in the body can put you at risk for getting coronary heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
Be aware that cholesterol can be both good and bad!
Yes, there are two types of cholesterol: "good" cholesterol or HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and "bad" cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein).
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol lowers your risk of getting heart disease. Performing regular physical activity, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, as well as reducing trans fats are some of the ways to increase your HDL levels. It is to be noted that HDL levels of less than 40 mg/dL increases the risk of heart disease.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, at high levels, can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in arteries. If your LDL levels are higher, then there is a greater chance for getting heart attack and stroke. An optimal LDL level should be less than 100 mg/dL.
Besides Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol, Triglycerides are a common type of fat found in the blood. It is a major source of energy that, in normal amounts, is very important to good health. But high levels of Triglycerides may increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Know Your Cholesterol Levels
It is vital to know your cholesterol numbers and what they mean to you. Getting to know the types of cholesterol and their normal levels helps you to interpret your cholesterol test. Cholesterol levels are determined by a simple blood test. This test lets you know your total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
LDL cholesterol levels
Below 100 mg/dL: optimal
100 to 129 mg/dL: near optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL: borderline high
160 to 189 mg/dL: high
190 mg/dL and above: very high
HDL cholesterol levels
More than 60 mg/dL: optimal
Below 40 mg/dL: undesirable level
Less than 150 mg/dL: normal
150 to 199 mg/dL: borderline high
200 to 499 mg/dL: high
Above 500 mg/dL: very high
Total Cholesterol = LDL + HDL + Triglycerides
Less than 200 mg/dL: desirable
200 to 239 mg/dL: borderline high risk
240 mg/dL and over: high risk
How to Prepare For a Cholesterol Test
Firstly, you have to know that a Cholesterol Test is done to measure the level of the waxy material called cholesterol that is present in your blood. This test helps determine your risk for coronary artery disease and stroke. Preparing for the Cholesterol Test is easy and in order to get an accurate reading, the following should be borne in mind:
- You must fast for at least 9 to 12 hours before the cholesterol test.
- You may drink water. But coffee, tea, soda or colas should be avoided.
- Be aware that some medications affect cholesterol test results.
- Some drugs that may increase total cholesterol measurements include corticosteroids, birth control pills, vitamin D, and so on; the drugs that may decrease total cholesterol measurements include androgens, fibrates, statins, and so on. So, consult your doctor regarding the medications that you should avoid taking on the day of the cholesterol test.
What Precautions Should I Take When Using Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs?
- While taking cholesterol drugs, regular visit to your physician is important.
- In addition to taking cholesterol medications, you should also follow a regimen of regular exercise and special diet.
- Pregnant and nursing women should consult their physician before using cholesterol drugs.
- People who are over 60 years of age may be sensitive to some cholesterol drugs.