Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced naturally in the body. It is present in cell membranes allround the body. Cholesterol helps the brain, skin and other body organs to work well and the body uses cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help digest fat. Excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can result in the narrowing of arteries, leading to heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. A simple blood test is used to check the body’s cholesterol levels.
The blood test measures total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. Total Cholesterol Level This is the total of all the cholesterol in the body.
• Less than 200 mg/dL: desirable • 200-239 mg/dL: borderline high risk
• 240 and over: high risk High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) This is considered the “good” cholesterol, as it can help reduce cholesterol build-up in the walls of arteries responsible for the narrowing of the openings.
• Less than 40 mg/dL (men), less than 50 mg/dL (women): increased risk of heart disease
• Greater than 60mg/dL: some protection against heart disease Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) This is the flipside of HDL.That is, it is considered “bad” cholesterol, because an increase in LDL in the blood leads to an increased possibility of narrowing the blood vessels. • Less than 100 mg/dL: optimal
• 100-129 mg/dL: near optimal/above optimal
• 130-159 mg/dL: borderline high
• 160- 189 mg/dL: high
• 190 mg/dL and above: very high Triglycerides These are another type of fat found in the blood. High levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for narrowing the body’s arteries.
• Less than n150 mg/dL: normal
• 150-199 mg/dL: borderline to high
• 200-499mg/dL: high
• Above 500 mg/dL: very high What to do The main goal when you have high cholesterol or triglyceride levels is to reduce the possible risk of narrowed arteries and the accompanying complications.
• Introduce lifestyle changes such as
o Exercising often
o Controlling your weight and
o Quitting smoking If lifestyle changes are not adequate to control cholesterol levels, medications may be prescribed by your health care practitioner in agreement with the patient
Eating a healthy diet low in unsaturated fats and cholesterol o Exercising often o Controlling your weight and o Quitting smoking If lifestyle changes are not adequate to control cholesterol levels, medications may be prescribed by your health care practitioner in agreement with the patient