1 AnswerTalk to your doctor about finding the best ways to keep your cholesterol at healthy levels. She or he can do a blood test to assess the fat and cholesterol levels in your blood. Depending on those results and your other risk factors for heart disease, your doctor may recommend taking a cholesterol-lowering medication, like a statin, or using more natural methods of reducing your cholesterol levels.
1 AnswerBecause researchers have noticed a correlation between elevated cholesterol levels and heart disease, many doctors work to decrease one’s cholesterol in order to help keep the heart healthy. However, this concept of cholesterol being bad for your heart has been in debate for the past century. There have even been periods of time when some physicians considered cholesterol to be good for your heart -- and some physicians still think that way.
The connection between heart disease and cholesterol may be due to its connection with arteriosclerosis. In fact, Dr. Rudolf Virchow, a prominent German pathologist, first proposed that cholesterol was bad for you in 1856. In his “lipid hypothesis,” he proposed that cholesterol and lipids build up on the insides of blood vessels. This clogs and hardens arteries, which increases blood pressure and halts blood flow.
Other studies have shown the heart-healthy benefits of lowering cholesterol by connecting cholesterol-lowering medications, called statins, with a lower rate of heart disease. However, some researchers and clinicians believe the research is still inconclusive, and that there is no strong evidence linking statins to a reduced risk of heart disease, sparking the “cholesterol controversy” of the 1970s and 1980s, which continues today. However, most physicians currently stick to Virchow’s lipid hypothesis and prescribe statins and recommend low-cholesterol diets to keep one’s heart healthy.
1 AnswerCholesterol serves as a backbone for your cellular membrane. It sticks inside the cell wall, functioning as a support structure. Your body also uses the cholesterol molecule to make important hormones, like testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and progesterone. Your digestive system also uses cholesterol to build bile acids, which help the body absorb fats and other important nutrients. (Your body does need some fat in order to survive.)
1 AnswerIntermountain Healthcare answeredToo little high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your bloodstream can be risky. That's because HDL cholesterol removes some of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or "bad cholesterol" from the artery walls, preventing or slowing the buildup of dangerous plaque. You want high levels of this "good" HDL to help keep your arteries clear -- and your heart protected.
1 AnswerIntermountain Healthcare answeredToo little high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol) in your bloodstream can also increase your heart risk. That's because HDL cholesterol removes some of the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the artery walls -- preventing or slowing the buildup of dangerous plaque. You want high levels of this "good" HDL to help keep your arteries clear -- and your heart protected.
1 AnswerSecondsCount.org answeredA blood cholesterol test gives your physician important information about your risk for cardiovascular disease and can also be used to see if medications prescribed to lower cholesterol levels are working. This blood test is used to measure total cholesterol levels, LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, HDL (or “good”) cholesterol and triglycerides. When all types of blood fat are checked at the same time, it is called a lipoprotein profile.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it causes plaque to build up inside the arteries. The maximum LDL for health in patients varies with medical history. An LDL cholesterol reading of over 130 mg/dl places someone at higher risk for cardiovascular events. With existing disease, the maximum may be 100 mg/dl, or even lower -- for example, 70 mg/dl if you have had a heart attack.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is called “good” cholesterol because it helps keep cholesterol from building up inside the blood vessels. An HDL cholesterol reading below 40 indicates an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and higher is always better.
Triglycerides are the third type of blood fat measured by the test. A triglyceride level of 200 or more indicates an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Generally you will be asked to avoid eating or drinking for 8-12 hours before having blood drawn for cholesterol screening (fasting lipid profile). However, in some instances, general screening can be done without fasting.
3 AnswersPenn Medicine answered
Four main fat groups -- monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats -- contribute to the total cholesterol count in your blood. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as “bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as “good” cholesterol and is essential to a heart-healthy diet.
LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque, while HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood. Decreasing the amount of saturated fats and trans fats you consume will help lower LDL in the blood.
Saturated fats are mostly found in meat and dairy foods, such as steak, whole milk and ice cream. To reduce your intake of saturated fats, choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products and use less butter.
Trans fats are vegetable oils that have been changed from a liquid to a solid form, such as a stick of margarine or vegetable shortening. Limit your use of stick margarines, shortenings and foods made with hydrogenated vegetable oil like candies, snack foods and prepared baked goods.
1 AnswerSecondsCount.org answeredHaving blood drawn by a qualified medical professional for a blood cholesterol test is very safe. You will experience momentary pain when the needle is inserted, and you may experience bruising at the needle insertion site after the test is complete. If you have an allergy to latex or to any adhesives, let the person know who is drawing the blood so he or she can make any necessary adjustments.
1 AnswerHealthyWomen answeredThere are several major risk factors that affect your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol goal and will be considered when recommending a treatment plan. These are:
- kidney disease
- coronary heart disease
- peripheral vascular disease
- presence of vascular disease
- age (in general, the older you are, the more likely your healthcare professional will decide drug therapy is appropriate if your LDL cholesterol level is too high; for women, 55 is often the threshold age)
- smoking (or daily exposure to secondhand smoke)
- high blood pressure. The goal is less than 120/80 mm Hg for the general population, less than 140/90 mm Hg for people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and less than 130/80 mm Hg in people with kidney disease or diabetes.
- low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (below 50 mg/dL for women)
- family history of premature heart disease (heart disease in father or brother before age 55; heart disease in mother or sister before age 65)
1 AnswerHealthyWomen answeredIf you are overweight, losing weight can help lower blood cholesterol levels. It is also the most effective lifestyle change to reduce high blood pressure and diabetes, which are both risk factors for atherosclerosis and heart disease. The best way to lose weight is through a combination of diet and exercise, emphasizing healthy food choices, portion control and an active lifestyle.