Here is a question for you – are you a healthy individual? If your answer is in the affirmative, how sure are you? You may be exercising, going for daily walks, and are not suffering from any diseases in recent times, but it doesn’t mean you are healthy.
Your health depends on several health metrics such as blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Today, we will be talking about cholesterol – a key health metric that evaluates your heart health, how it is tested, and what should be the ideal cholesterol level, so sit back and get it all in this blog.
So, what is cholesterol?
Nobody is unfamiliar with the term cholesterol, but not everybody is aware of how cholesterol affects heart health and your overall health.
So, starting with the basics, cholesterol is a fat-like substance that has some significant functions in the body. It is found in the cells of the body and plays a crucial role in making hormones and vitamin D. Though it is produced by the body, it can also be found in food items. Hence, when you have excess cholesterol in your body, it can form into plaque by combining with other substances. This plaque attaches to the walls of arteries, making the walls narrow and obstructing smooth blood flow to the heart.
What does a cholesterol test measure?
A cholesterol test, also known as a lipid panel or a cholesterol panel, measures several components related to cholesterol levels in your blood. These are, HDL, LDL and VLDL which are lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout your body. It typically measures:
This is the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood, including both “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease when it is too high.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as “good” cholesterol, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Higher levels are desirable.
These are other types of fat in your blood and can contribute to heart disease when elevated.
The results of a cholesterol test help assess your risk of heart disease and provide information about your lipid profile, which can guide healthcare professionals in recommending appropriate lifestyle changes or medications if needed to manage cholesterol levels.
Why is a cholesterol test necessary?
Here is a startling fact, you can live with high cholesterol all your life but still wouldn’t know it. This is where the cholesterol test comes in. It tells the cholesterol numbers and assesses your likelihood of having a heart disease.
What are the metrics and what are normal cholesterol levels?
Cholesterol is measured as milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, i.e., mg/dL.
Normal cholesterol levels
As there is no size that fits all, there is no fixed number that is considered normal for everyone. Ideal cholesterol levels differ by age and heart condition.
However, healthy levels that are considered “normal” for most people is anything below 70mg/ dl
- If you are 19 and younger – Total cholesterol should be below 170, Non-HDL cholesterol should be below 120
- If you are 20 years and older and a male:
- Total cholesterol should range between 125 to 200
- Non-HDL cholesterol should be below 130
- If you are female, total cholesterol should range between 125 to 200 and non-HDL cholesterol should be below 130
What is considered high cholesterol?
If you have a total cholesterol equal to 200 mg/dl or more, it is high cholesterol. For non-HDL cholesterol, anything more than 145 mg/ dL will be higher (if you’re below 19 years old). If you are 20 and older, cholesterol more than 240 would be considered ‘high’.
What if I have high cholesterol?
Firstly, you must consider visiting a health expert. The health expert will provide you with accurate and proper guidance to reduce your cholesterol, including prescription medicine. However, some of the general tips that can be of help include,
- No smoking and consumption of tobacco
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing stress
Understanding cholesterol testing is a vital component of proactive healthcare and heart disease prevention. Regular cholesterol screenings can provide valuable insights into your cardiovascular health, enabling you to make informed decisions about your lifestyle and, if necessary, work with your healthcare provider to manage cholesterol levels effectively. Whether it’s optimising your diet, increasing physical activity, or considering medication, the information obtained through cholesterol testing empowers individuals to take control of their well-being and reduce the risk of heart-related complications. By staying informed and proactive, you can pave the way to a heart-healthy future.