It is no secret that having high blood cholesterol increases a person’s risk of getting heart disease. Heart disease in common not only in the United States but in other developed countries as well and is in fact the leading cause of death in the U.S. In the United States alone, there are roughly about 1 in every 6 adults who have high total cholesterol levels and the average cholesterol level of adult Americans is 200mg/dL, a cholesterol level considered to be borderline high risk already.
Lipid Profile for Checking Cholesterol
A lipid profile is usually done to check cholesterol levels in the body. It includes a series of tests namely total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. It helps determine an individual’s risk for coronary heart disease and gives a good outlook of whether a person is at risk or not for stroke or heart attack.
Total Cholesterol Levels
Total blood cholesterol is the measure of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. A total cholesterol level of 240mg/dL and above is considered as high blood cholesterol while levels between 200-239mg.dL is considered as borderline high cholesterol. Doctors recommend maintaining total cholesterol levels of below 200mg/dL to lower the risk of getting coronary heart disease.
LDL cholesterol is also known as bad cholesterol. The lower the levels of LDL in the blood, the lower the risk for stroke and heart attack. LDL levels are used more often than total cholesterol level as a basis for determining a patient’s risk for heart disease. A healthy person should have an LDL cholesterol level of below 100mg/dL although this can vary depending on a person’s risk factors.
HDL cholesterol is also known as good cholesterol. Having low HDL levels increases the risk for heart disease while high HDL level is considered to protect against heart disease. Smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight can reduce HDL cholesterol levels.
Triglyceride is a type of fat that is most common in the body. High triglyceride levels combined with high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol can promote the development of atherosclerosis, a condition affecting arteries wherein fatty deposits build up within the arterial walls.
How to Reduce Cholesterol
Cholesterol management is important to reduce the risk for heart disease. There are different ways to lower cholesterol and can involve the use of medications such as statins, following a low cholesterol diet, and doing physical activity.
Statins are drugs used to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by disrupting cholesterol production in the liver. Statins can help lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol levels. One of the common concerns with the use of statins is its side effects, particularly rhabdomyolysis which can cause potential harm and even death. Medications are commonly used when diet and exercise fail to produce results.
One of the best ways to reduce LDL is through proper diet. A low cholesterol diet can help reduce cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol from one’s diet can cause LDL cholesterol to increase significantly since the body already produces part of the cholesterol in the body. Some foods are not only low in cholesterol but are also known to help lower LDL cholesterol in the blood such as oatmeal, fatty fish that contain omega 3, and soy products.
If you want to increase HDL cholesterol in the body, the best way to achieve it is through exercise. Exercising regularly help increase HDL cholesterol levels to protect against heart disease. Studies show that exercise increases the production and enhances the action of enzymes involved in the reverse cholesterol transport system, a process wherein cholesterol is returned to the liver.
Cholesterol levels have a great impact on one’s health. Proper diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle are essential to good health. Knowing the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol levels can help you make more informed choices when it comes to your body.