Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Facts About Your Cholesterol Level

It's one thing to be told that cholesterol level is too high. It's another thing entirely to understand what that means and why it is important to bring it into check.

The cholesterol level a person hears about in a doctor's office following a simple blood test is generally the read out of several different types of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Most tests look for a few different types of cholesterol, or fat, with three forms being vital for good health.

The LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is called the "bad" cholesterol. This form of fat is known for its ability to stick to plaque in the arteries and assist in hardening and clogging. When the level of this kind of cholesterol is too high, serious problems can be on the horizon. Issues that might arise include an increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks and even stroke. Bringing this down can greatly increase the risk for such conditions developing.

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, will also be checked as part of a standard cholesterol level test. This kind of cholesterol is known as the "good" kind. It has earned the reputation of being good simply because it is known to help remove bad cholesterol from the bloodstream and transport it to the liver where it can be removed from the body. When the levels of HDL are too low, it can be a problem.

Triglycerides are also checked in a standard test. This form of fat is the type the body tends to make all on its own. When these levels are too high, there is cause for concern.

When blood cholesterol level tests come back in, the most common reading will be in milligrams per deciliter of blood, which is written generally as mg/dL. The levels of cholesterol a person should have in their bloodstream will vary depending on age, but in general when a total cholesterol test comes back it should be under 200 mg/dL. Anything between 200 and 239 is considered borderline and 240 and above is a cause for concern.

If a test happens to break it down. The standard "normal" results will be 60 mg/dL or above for HDL or "good" cholesterol. LDL cholesterol level readings should be less than 100 mg/dL. Anything in the 130 to 159 range is considered borderline. At about 160, there is cause for concern. Triglyceride level should fall in at 150 mg/dL for the normal range.

Finding out cholesterol level on a regular basic can help a person avoid one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke. When the numbers are known, the correct action can be taken. In some cases the tests will lead a doctor to recommend diet and exercise changes. In other cases, diet, exercise and even special medications will be ordered.

Understanding cholesterol level and its implications on health can save a life. At the very least, the information can help a person make conscious decisions about their health and what they can do to improve it. Heart disease is a silent killer, but there are warning signs. Cholesterol level is a rather loud and clear sign.

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