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A guide to what your cholesterol readings mean

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What do your cholesterol levels mean
What do your cholesterol levels mean

Blood cholesterol levels are of paramount importance when assessing an individual’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

There are three significant numbers associated with cholesterol testing.  They are total cholesterol, HDL and LDL.

Total cholesterol, as the term implies, indicates a sum of the over all cholesterol counts.  Those measurements can then be broken down into HDL and LDL. HDL is the measurement of high-density lipoproteins.  This is the good or healthy cholesterol.  The LDL measurement is for low-density lipoproteins, and should be considered the lousy cholesterol, the type that causes problems and should be minimized.

Millions of Americans have high cholesterol counts, and more importantly unhealthy cholesterol ratios.  That is to say that the LDL, or lousy cholesterol, outweighs the HDL, or healthy cholesterol.  This leads to the formation of arterial plaque, clogging important blood vessels, making them more vulnerable to deadly clots.

Although genetics play a roll, the leading factors for high unhealthy cholesterol levels is a lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits, both of which eventually result in a toxic weight gain. Being significantly overweight or obese further stresses important systems in the body.  Incidentally, these same factors are associated with a marked increase in the incidence of adult onset diabetes.  Both diseases often go hand in hand.

Cholesterol assessments should begin sometime in the early 20s, and to be repeated every five or six years.  Cholesterol levels are obtained through simple blood tests.  If the results are abnormal, cholesterol levels should be checked much more frequently.

Generally, total cholesterol readings above 240 are considered high, while those between 200 and 240, are considered borderline.  Ideally, the LDL, or lousy cholesterol, should be under 100.  Values over 130 are considered high and require intervention.  Higher values of HDL, compared to LDL, are optimal. The comparative values indicate the cholesterol ratio, which is now considered to be the most relevant factor in cholesterol evaluation and treatment.

Good cholesterol management should be done through diet and exercise whenever possible. Proper changes in both areas will almost always have a significantly beneficial effect on cholesterol numbers. If the LDL is not sufficiently lowered by diet and exercise alone, potent natural remedies are available. Cholesterol lowering drugs are an option, but their long-term use is associated with unwanted side effects and liver toxicity.

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