Cholesterol Levels

August 4, 2009

Know Your Cholesterol Levels

Introduction

Our bodies can produce approximately 400 times more cholesterol than you could eat from 100 grams of butter. Together, the cholesterol your body makes and what you take in from what you eat  make up the total cholesterol level in the body.

Cholesterol Testing

There are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol, thus the only way to know whether you have high cholesterol levels is to have your physician or pharmacist carry out a blood test. The test checks for HDL, LDL and triglycerides. 

It is worth noting that over the counter testing kits test only total cholesterol levels. The results of these tests should only be used as a guide and irrespective of the result you should still consult your physician.

The American Heart Association recommends that people aged 20 or older should test their cholesterol levels every 5 years. It is normal for cholesterol levels to fluctuate so repeat the test after one or two months to get a reliable average.

Test Conditions

It is recommended to fast 12 hours before the blood test so that food doesn’t falsely increase your cholesterol levels. Factors that can affect blood cholesterol levels temporarily are exercise and eating.

Eating before a test can raise cholesterol levels by more than 15%. A good idea is to schedule your blood test for early in the morning.

Cholesterol Levels: The Good, the Borderline and the High

 

Total Cholesterol Levels (mg/100ml)

Good Borderline High High
Less than 200 200-239 Greater than 240

 

LDL Levels (mg/100ml)

Optimal Near Optimal Borderline High High Very High
Less than 100 100-129 130-159 160-189 Greater than 190

 

HDL Levels (mg/100ml)

Best Too Low
60 and above Below 40
 
 
Triglycerides are measured as part of the blood test that measures cholesterol.

Triglycerides Levels (mg/100ml)

Good less than 150

 

Recommended cholesterol levels may vary depending on other risk factors such as hypertension, family history of heart disease, diabetes, age, alcoholism and smoking.

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