Too much or too little cholesterol can put you at greater risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Cholesterol is often in the news these days, but many people are still confused about the facts. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cholesterol:
Q: Is it true that all cholesterol comes from the foods I eat?
A. No, While cholesterol can be found in the foods you eat, it’s also made naturally by your body.
Q: Is all cholesterol considered bad?
A: No. LDL is the type that is often called “bad” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can clog arteries and increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. But there’s also HDL; it’s sometimes called “good” cholesterol. It helps prevent plaque from building up in arteries.
Q: What are triglycerides?
A: They are a type of body fat. Studies shows that a high triglyceride level along with low HDL or high LDL increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Q: What do all the numbers mean?
A: Knowing your cholesterol levels is important, because too much or too little can put you at greater risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. An LDL of less than 100 mg/dL is best, while an LDL of 160 mg/dL is considered high. An HDL of 60 mg/dL or higher helps protect against heart disease. A total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or less helps protect against heart disease. A normal triglyceride level is defined as less than 150 mg/dL.
Q: How often should I have my cholesterol tested?
A: The American Heart Association recommends having a fasting lipoprotein profile test once every five years starting at age 20. It measures good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
Q: What if my fasting lipoprotein profile shows that my LDL is too high or my HDL is too low?
A: You may be able to reduce your LDL or increase your HDL by eating a healthy diet, exercising at moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, limiting your alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two for men and quitting smoke if applicable. If that doesn’t produce the results you’re after, talk with your doctor about the possibility of taking a prescription medication to help you achieve healthy levels.
To learn more about cholesterol, or to schedule an appointment to have your cholesterol tested, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.