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Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels: A Guide

Good heart health is like building blocks- cumulative. While the body needs cholesterol to function correctly, from building cell walls to being the base structure of bile acid synthesis and vitamin D to steroid hormone production and more. Cholesterol is also present in proteins in the blood, and when mixed, the proteins and cholesterol produce lipoproteins.

There are two main types of lipoprotein: high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL is often referred to as “good cholesterol” as it carries cholesterol away from cells and to the liver, which is either broken down or expelled from the body. Ideally, the body should have more HDL and less LDL.

LDL, on the other hand, carries cholesterol to the cells that require it. Too much of this type of cholesterol can cause it to accumulate in artery walls, leading to vascular disease. That is why LDL is known as “bad cholesterol”. A blood test can help measure both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.

This article offers a thorough overview of high cholesterol, including information on its causes, symptoms, and treatments, so read on to know more.

Overview of High Cholesterol

If your blood has an excessive amount of lipids (fats), it is known as high cholesterol, hyperlipidemia, or hypercholesterolemia. Although your body needs a certain amount of lipids, an excessive amount can be detrimental. When too many lipids are present, the body cannot use them all, resulting in a buildup of plaque on the artery walls, making it difficult for blood to pass through them.

If left untreated, high cholesterol levels could be potentially fatal. Recent research has suggested that age, gender, and a history of heart disease are just a few factors that can help identify if someone has high cholesterol. The only way to find out how much cholesterol is in the body is through a blood lipid panel test, which you get as a part of the metabolic panel testing in the HealthifyPro package. It is a breakthrough innovation by HealthifyMe, the world’s most well-known health and wellness platform with more than a million members. 

Levels of Cholesterol in Adults

As people age, cholesterol levels generally increase. Taking proactive steps to keep cholesterol levels healthy during younger years may help prevent them from becoming dangerously high later. High cholesterol levels in later years can be hard to manage. Generally, men have higher cholesterol levels than women. 

According to research, a woman’s cholesterol levels may increase after menopause, and a man’s cholesterol levels may gradually rise with age. The standard for healthy cholesterol levels for men and women older than 20 is typically the same, though the HDL cholesterol standards may differ. All values are expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

ReadingTOTAL CHOLESTEROLHDL CHOLESTEROLLDL CHOLESTEROLTRIGLYCERIDESGoodNot more than 200 (but the lower, the better)Ideal range is 60 or higher; acceptable ranges for men and women are 40 or higher.Less than 100, below 70 if coronary artery disease is prevalentLess than 149; the ideal is <100. Borderline to moderately elevated200 -239130-159150-199High240 or more60 or more160 or more; 190 is considered very high200 or more; 500 is considered very high

Source: AHA Journal

Levels of Cholesterol in Children

Children who engage in physical activity, eat a balanced diet, are not overweight, and do not have a family history of high cholesterol are less prone to developing it. However, those with other risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, or a hereditary predisposition, should be tested twice during childhood: between the ages of 2 and 8 and again between the ages of 12 and 16. According to current guidelines, all children should have their cholesterol levels checked between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21.

Below are the recommended cholesterol levels for kids, with all values given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL):

ReadingTOTAL CHOLESTEROLHDL CHOLESTEROLLDL CHOLESTEROLTRIGLYCERIDESGood170 or lessGreater than 45Less than 110Less than 75 in children 0–9 yrs; less than 90 in children 10–19 yrsBorderline to moderately elevated170-19940-45110-12975–99 in children 0–9 yrs; 90–129 in children 10–19 yrsHigh200 or Higher130 or Higher100 or more in children 0–9; 130 or more in children 10–19

Source: AHA Journal

The HealthifyMe Note

If your cholesterol is high, fatty deposits can accumulate in your blood vessels. That will make it difficult for your arteries to circulate blood properly. In some cases, these deposits may suddenly rupture, leading to a clot and potentially a heart attack or stroke. You can lower the chance of developing heart disease by becoming aware of your cholesterol levels.

Effective Ways for Lowering Cholesterol

Making simple lifestyle changes suitable for all ages and abilities can help reduce your total cholesterol level. These changes may include eating healthier and exercising regularly. If these lifestyle modifications are not enough, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol. A healthy lifestyle benefits many people and can significantly impact your overall health.

Try to Get Some Exercise

You could acquire heart disease if you don’t exercise. Exercise enlarges the diameter of  your LDL particles, which reduces the amount of plaque in the arteries. According to a study, regular exercise lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL (good cholesterol) levels (bad cholesterol). 

Exercise aids with weight loss. 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise can result in noticeable results.  At least five times a week, try to get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, biking, jogging, swimming, or dancing.

Maintain Weight

Losing excess body weight is an effective way to lower your cholesterol levels. Research has shown that obesity and heart disease are linked. Even shedding just 5-10 pounds can significantly reduce your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Plus, it increases your HDL (good) cholesterol and promotes better overall health, including heart disease prevention. Figure out what weight is ideal for you to maintain good health.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake.

According to a study, excessive alcohol use might increase blood triglyceride levels, which can cause atrial fibrillation and hypertension. So, consume alcohol carefully to lower cholesterol levels.

Controlling Stress

Sometimes, prolonged stress can lower HDL cholesterol and raise LDL cholesterol. Exercise, yoga, adequate sleep, and other relaxing activities can help you manage your mental stress.

Keep An Eye on Your Cholesterol Levels.

A cholesterol test can examine your blood’s fat and cholesterol levels to determine how likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease. It is always best to monitor your cholesterol to maintain a healthy level. Regular testing benefits everyone at risk for high cholesterol or with a family history of the condition.

Managing Cholesterol: The HealthifyMe Way

In the past few months, the programme has implemented various features to address lifestyle diseases caused by metabolic abnormalities and poor lifestyle choices that often cause visible symptoms such as being overweight, underweight, or obese. Its advanced metabolic panel testing can quickly measure features such as cholesterol levels. Furthermore, certified coaches, through their customised intervention and planning, can help you manage cholesterol-based medical conditions and any others that might concern you from your medical history.

This improved solution integrates historical knowledge with technology development to produce highly personalised diet and fitness plans from top nutritionists and trainers. The plans consider the user’s current cholesterol level, target weight, calculated BMI, calorie limit, and dietary preferences, allowing them to gain insight into controlling high cholesterol levels through proper dietary and lifestyle modifications. With each plan being distinct and customised based on the user’s metabolic profile, this is an invaluable resource to those looking to make necessary lifestyle changes.

Medical Treatments for High Cholesterol

Your doctor might suggest a course of action for high cholesterol that entails a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Depending on your age, sex, general health, and any additional medications you might be on, this will change.

Here are some drugs frequently recommended for high cholesterol:

Inhibitors of Cholesterol Absorption

When combined with statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors can prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from food.

Bempedoic Acid 

Bempedoic acid inhibits the Livers ATP citrate Lyase enzyme that produces cholesterol. For people with familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that can lead to early heart disease, this medication is frequently used with statins for improved benefit.   

According to research, Bempedoic acid with a single daily dose of 180 mg lowers LDL-C by an average of 24.5% when given alone, 18% when given in addition to a major statin, and 38–40% when given in a fixed-dose combination with ezetimibe.

Statins

According to a study, statins reduce LDL cholesterol levels by decreasing the liver’s manufacture of cholesterol.

Bile Acid Sequestrants

According to research, the oldest and safest lipid-lowering medicines are bile acid resins or sequestrants. Digestive aids include bile acid sequestrants. By attaching to bile acids and removing them, these resins can lower blood cholesterol levels by making the body produce bile acids by breaking down LDL cholesterol.

Fibrates

Fibrates aid in removing LDL particles and reducing triglycerides. The liver’s production of apoA-I and apoA-II is also increased, which could raise HDL cholesterol levels. To decrease cholesterol, some fibrates may be administered combined with statins. Certain fibrates may not help lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke any more than statins alone, according to certain research.

In those at risk for pancreatitis, fibrates may also be administered to lower high triglycerides. Adults are prescribed fibrates.

PCSK9 Inhibitors.

PCSK9 inhibitors, injectable medications, aid the liver in absorbing and eliminating more LDL cholesterol from the blood and are typically used in conjunction with familial hypercholesterolemia.

The HealthifyMe Note

High cholesterol usually has no symptoms, so it is essential to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly. To reduce your risk of high cholesterol-related problems, you should avoid tobacco and its byproducts, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet. These lifestyle changes will help keep your cholesterol levels in the normal range.

Consult Your Physician

There may not be any apparent indications of high cholesterol levels, and the only warning sign may be an emergency symptom like a heart attack or stroke. It means that it is essential to get regular medical checks. It is recommended that most people get their cholesterol levels checked through a blood test every four to six years. Suppose you suffer from any of the following conditions. In that case, your doctor may advise more frequent screening:

A background in cardiac diseasesHigh cholesterol in the familyIf you smoke, you’re overweight or obese and have high blood pressure.

Conclusion

Cholesterol is essential for many bodily functions, and its levels can vary depending on age, weight, and gender. However, high total cholesterol, high “bad” cholesterol, or low “good” cholesterol can make you more vulnerable to heart disease. It is important to note that this applies to individuals of all ages and body types, even those who appear physically fit and active. Individuals with other medical conditions are at an even higher risk for excessive cholesterol. 

Since high cholesterol does not cause symptoms, a simple blood test is the only way to determine if you have it. To avoid potential complications, you must speak to your doctor about your risk and follow their recommended treatment plan. Additionally, following a healthier lifestyle is essential in managing your cholesterol and helping to reduce the risk of severe consequences.

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