Blood cholesterol levels have a lot to do with an individual’s risk of developing heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease, therefore the higher your blood cholesterol level the higher your risk of developing heart disease will be. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
Too much cholesterol in your blood can lead to a build-up of this ‘fat-like substance’ inside your arteries and eventually lead to hardening of the arteries, limiting blood flow to the heart. Blood carries oxygen to your heart and with a limited supply this may result in chest pain or a heart attack.
Monitoring your cholesterol with a lipoprotein profile test is suggested. This test should be done at least once every five years over the age of 20 and more frequently if levels are not within desired ranges.
Optimal cholesterol levels are:
Total cholesterol less than 200mg/dL
LDL cholesterol (also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) less than 100mg/dL
HDL cholesterol (also known as ‘good’ cholesterol) greater than 40mg/dL
Triglycerides less than 150mg/dL
How can you affect your cholesterol levels?
Diet: Reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet
Weight: Maintain a healthy weight; weight loss can lower your LDL and total cholesterol, as well as increase your HDL
Physical Activity: Being physically active can help lower your LDL cholesterol and increase your HDL cholesterol, as well as lose weight
Some factors are out of our control when it comes to affecting our cholesterol levels:
Age and gender: As we age our cholesterol levels rise
Heredity: High cholesterol can run in families
Lifestyle changes can affect cholesterol levels, but for some individual’s drug treatment may be necessary. Follow your blood cholesterol levels in consultation with your primary care physician.