You may have high cholesterol because it runs in your family, but many controllable lifestyle habits contribute to its development. These include inactivity, an unhealthy diet, and being overweight or obese. Smoking and diabetes also increase your risk.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is considered “bad” cholesterol. It’s the type that adheres to the walls of your arteries, so they narrow and restrict blood flow to your organs. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is “good” cholesterol. HDL gathers extra cholesterol before it builds in your arteries and moves it back to your liver.
If you’re tested for total cholesterol, the doctor looks for a number of 200 or below. A reading of 200-239 is borderline high, and 240 or greater is considered high cholesterol that needs intervention.
A full lipid panel includes measurements for both HDL and LDL. Having a higher HDL level is actually a good thing. If your HDL level is 60 or above, it’s considered protective against heart disease, while having an HDL level of 40 or lower is a potential risk for disease.
LDL levels below 100 -- and even better, below 70 -- are also desirable when it comes to lowering your risk of heart disease.
The ratio of your total cholesterol to HDL is also notable. The smaller that ratio, the better. For example, if you have a total cholesterol of 200, with an HDL of 70, you have a ratio of 2.9. This is more desirable than someone who also has a total cholesterol level of 200 with an HDL of 50 or a ratio of 4.
Triglycerides are another fat in the blood that is measured in a lipid panel. Normal triglyceride levels are under 150.
You can take a lot of positive steps to improve your cholesterol levels or prevent them from getting too high. Our providers can coach you on how to incorporate these into your daily life. For example, you can:
You can be more active, too. It’s recommended that you exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes per week if you’re physically able.
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