High Cholesterol Levels
High Cholesterol Levels Mean High Risk for Heart Disease
There is a misconception about high cholesterol levels. Some people think that when you have too much bad cholesterol in your bloodstream symptoms will manifest, but that is not the case. An increase in your low-density cholesterol (LDL) number does not trigger any unusual symptoms until a heart attack or stroke is imminent. Each year more than a million people suffer a heart attack, and over half a million people die each year from heart disease.
Low-density cholesterol (LDL) plays a major role in heart disease, but low-density cholesterol doesn't show itself unless you take a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. The lipoprotein profile is done after a 9 to 12 hour fast. The test will give you a total cholesterol count, which is the combined number of high-density and low-density lipoprotein in your blood.
It also breaks out the low-density cholesterol number, which is the culprit that causes blocked arteries, as well as the high-density number, which is the good stuff that helps wash away the sticky LDL that clings to blood vessel walls. The test also gives you a triglyceride number. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood.
If you have a 200 mg/dL or less cholesterol number you are in the safe zone. A 200 to 239 mg/dL number is borderline high, and 240 mg/dL or more is a high cholesterol level. The goal is to keep your LDL number less than 100 mg/dL. If it is 100 to 139 mg/dL you are still good, but if your low-density number is 130 to 159 mg/dL you are borderline high. A 160 to 189 mg/dL number is high, and over 190 mg/dL means you have high cholesterol, and are at risk for heart disease.
There are several things that contribute to high cholesterol levels. Diet is the main issue. Saturated fats as well as trans-fats in your food will turn into LDL cholesterol once it is processed by the liver. Excess weight will also increase your low-density cholesterol number. The lack of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will increase your LDL number. Age, genetics, and gender also play a role in bad cholesterol production.
There Are Major Risk Factors Associated With High Cholesterol Levels
Smoking is a major risk factor and so is high blood pressure. A family history of heart disease is another factor, and age (men over 45 and women over 55) also contributes to high cholesterol levels. If your HDL number is lower than 40 mg/dL then you are at risk as well. Your cholesterol ratio should be 4 to 1 in order to offset some of these risks. That means that for 1mg/dL of low-density lipoproteins in the bloodstream there should be 4 mg/dL of high-density lipoproteins traveling through the bloodstream at the same time.
Treating high cholesterol levels is usually done with a nutritional diet and aerobic exercise program, but some people need prescription statins to lower their LDL cholesterol. Statins block cholesterol absorption in the intestines. They are effective, but the side effects can be annoying. A diet that is balance with soluble fiber, unsaturated fats, and proteins is a better choice for most people. Once a nutritional diet is in place, your LDL cholesterol number can drop by 10% in three to four weeks.
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