Know Your Cholesterol Numbers

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Do you know your cholesterol numbers? If you have not had a check-up in the past year, now might be the time to find out. Chances are you might have a problem. Lipitor is the most prescribed drug on the planet, used to try to lower cholesterol.

Cholesterol is part genetics, part lifestyle. Cholesterol is made in the body and used for a range of functions, including maintaining the walls of cells so they remain firm. Not all fat is bad, because without it, we would be like jelly and would not have smooth, supple skin, for example.

But there are healthy fats, and unhealthy fats. Cholesterol is found in animal based foods like meat and dairy, but plant based oils such as olive oil can help lower cholesterol naturally. So too can walnuts, and eating oatmeal, due to its soluble fiber and the fact that it makes people feel full after eating it. This can help cut down on the amount they eat, and on the tendency for unhealthy snacking.

With your cholesterol numbers, there will be a number of components, such as LDL, VLDL, and HDL. The first two are the so called bad cholesterol readings, and the third is considered the helpful cholesterol.

 

LDL stands for low density lipoprotein.

VLDL stands for very low density lipoprotein.

Both of these are small and can get stuck in your arteries, causing narrowing, known as stenosis.  If the blood vessels get too narrow, especially in your coronary arteries, it can lead to a range of health complications, including heart attack. If one of the stuck clusters breaks off, it can lead to heart attack or stroke or other form of clot such as a pulmonary embolism, a clot in the lungs.

HDL stands for high density lipoprotein. It is thought that they help keep the blood vessels open and clear and reduce the risk of stenosis.

Then there are triglycerides, another component of cholesterol which helps the energy from the food you eat remain available to help fuel you through your busy day. High triglycerides have been linked to a range of metabolic disorders, so this is another important number you need to know.

One thing is for sure=heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the world, so anything you can do to improve your heart health is a step in the right direction.

Here are the numbers to aim for

Total cholesterol
(U.S. and some other countries)
Total cholesterol*
(Canada and most of Europe)
Below 200 mg/dL Below 5.2 mmol/L Desirable
200-239 mg/dL 5.2-6.2 mmol/L Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above Above 6.2 mmol/L High

 

LDL cholesterol
(U.S. and some other countries)
LDL cholesterol*
(Canada and most of Europe)
Below 70 mg/dL Below 1.8 mmol/L Ideal for people at very high risk of heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL Below 2.6 mmol/L Ideal for people at risk of heart disease
100-129 mg/dL 2.6-3.3 mmol/L Near ideal
130-159 mg/dL 3.4-4.1 mmol/L Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL 4.1-4.9 mmol/L High
190 mg/dL and above Above 4.9 mmol/L Very high

 

HDL cholesterol
(U.S. and some other countries)
HDL cholesterol*
(Canada and most of Europe)
Below 40 mg/dL (men)
Below 50 mg/dL (women)
Below 1 mmol/L (men)
Below 1.3 mmol/L (women)
Poor
40-49 mg/dL (men)
50-59 mg/dL (women)
1-1.3 mmol/L (men)
1.3-1.5 mmol/L (women)
Better
60 mg/dL and above 1.6 mmol/L and above Best

 

Triglycerides
(U.S. and some other countries)
Triglycerides*
(Canada and most of Europe)
Below 150 mg/dL Below 1.7 mmol/L Desirable
150-199 mg/dL 1.7-2.2 mmol/L Borderline high
200-499 mg/dL 2.3-5.6 mmol/L High
500 mg/dL and above Above 5.6 mmol/L and above Very high

Discuss your readings with your doctor in relation to your tests, and take action to boost your HDL and lower your LDL, to take control of your cholesterol.

FURTHER READING

Take Control of Your Cholesterol

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Know Your Cholesterol Numbers
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Know Your Cholesterol Numbers
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Learn more about your cholesterol numbers and what they can mean for your heart health.
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Author: cs

Carolyn Stone has been working in consumer health publishing and women’s interest publishing for more than 20 years. She is the author of more than 100 guides designed to help readers transform their lives through easy action steps. In her spare time, she cares for her increasingly large family, and is actively involved in fostering children and pets.