After age 20, have your cholesterol tested at least once every 5 years. It requires a fasting test, meaning you shouldn’t eat or drink anything, except for water, for 9-12 hours prior to having your blood drawn. The test can be done in office at DRS Medical Associates.
It’s desirable to have a total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL. The mg/dL represents milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. A borderline high level of cholesterol measures between 200 and 239 mg/dL; high cholesterol is diagnosed at 240 mg/dL.
LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. The standards for LDL levels are as follows:
HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is considered “good.” It actually helps stop cholesterol from building up and clogging your arteries. When your HDL is too low, it puts you at risk for developing heart disease. Lower than 40 mg/dL is low and levels at 60 mg/dL reduces your risk of heart disease. It’s ideal to have a HDL number higher than your LDL number.
When you have high cholesterol, and especially too much LDL, it starts to accumulate in the walls of your arteries. As these pathways for your blood get narrower it can slow the delivery of blood throughout your body and back to your heart. If this leads to a blockage, you may have a heart attack.
Factors you can’t control, like age and genetics, contribute to higher cholesterol levels. But, you can adjust your lifestyle to ensure that your diet, weight, and a sedentary lifestyle don’t contribute to higher cholesterol levels.
Your body produces cholesterol naturally and eating cholesterol-laden foods and ones high in calories encourages your body to amp up this production, potentially to unhealthy levels.
Being overweight increases your risk of high cholesterol, too.
Physical activity actually encourages the production of HDL and discourages LDL, so it helps bring your cholesterol to healthier levels and ratios.
Medications may help reduce high cholesterol, too.
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